View Full Version : NJ NJ - Florence "Sally" Horner, 11, Camden, June 1948

03-14-2006, 07:56 PM
The following story is about an 11 year old girl, Sally Horner, who was abducted by a pervert named Frank LaSalle on 15 June 1948 from her Camden, NJ hometown. She was forced to accompany him for the next 21 months. You may note some similarities between this case and others.
Frank LaSalle was 52 or 56 in 1950, depending on what press releases you read. He was reported to be an ex con with a history of rape, bigamy, indecent assault, enticing minors, and child molestation. Perhaps knowing more about him, his travels, his associates, and contacts might contribute to solving some long cold cases of child abduction, molestation and murder.

I will let the newspapers of the time tell Sally's story...

United Press release published in the Washington Post:

Girl, 12, Says She Lived With Abductor, 56, Two Years Through Fear She'd Be Arrested

San Jose, Calif, March 22, 1950, (UP). Twelve-year-old Sally Horner accused a former convict today of forcing her to live with him nearly two years by threatening to send her to prison for the theft of a dime-store notebook.

Mann Act charges were lodged against Frank LaSalle, 56 after the plump, honey-haired youngster from Camden, N.J. told how he held her in his power 21 months by claiming to be an FBI agent. He was held in lieu of $10,000 bond.

LaSalle's record includes conviction for rape and arrests for bigamy, indecent assault and enticing minors.

Sally, a seventh grader whose second set of teeth have just grown out, said LaSalle abducted her by guile from her Camden home, that she had sexual relations with him out of fear that he would turn her in.

LaSalle, thin-faced and gray-haired, denied her accusations of intimacies or that he held her against her will. He said Sally's mother, Mrs. Ella Horner, was his second wife. In Camden, Mrs. Horner, a widow, said she had never met LaSalle.

"He told me he was a Federal officer," Sally related through sobs. She will be 13 April 16.

Officers picked up the pair yesterday after Sally seized a chance when LaSalle went shopping to telephone her older sister, Mrs. Susan Panara, Beverly, N.J., and asked her to "send the FBI right away."

"To join a girl's club at school," Sally related, "I had to steal something from the five-and-dime. I took a little notebook off the five-cent counter and he stopped me. He said, 'I am an FBI agent. You are under arrest'."

That was June 1948. She said he told her he would not take her to jail if "I would report to him from time to time." The next day, she said, he met her coming home from school.

"He said he would have to take me to Atlantic City. He telephoned my mother and said he was taking me and some other girls to Atlantic City. I went with him and a woman, about 25 years old. He called her 'Miss Robinson' and said she was his secretary and he paid her $90 a week. Instead of going to Atlantic City we went to Baltimore. Miss Robinson disappeared and I never saw her again."

"He told me that if I went back home, or they sent for me, or if I ran away I'd go to prison." she told Sheriff Howard Hornbuckle.

From Baltimore, they moved to Dallas, Texas, where LaSalle worked several months as an automobile mechanic, the FBI reported. Sally posed as his daughter, attending parochial schools in Baltimore, Dallas and finally in San Jose where they arrived three weeks ago.

Associated Press releases from other papers:

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 22, 1950 (AP) — A hawk— faced New Jersey sex criminal was held for the FBI today, accused at forcing a 13-year-old schoolgirl to flee from her family, having sexual relations with him and travel across the country with him. The girl missing for nearly two years — said she did all these things because she feared the 52-year-old man would expose her theft of a five cent notebook. . .
The girl was chubby brown haired Florence Sally Horner of Camden.

Sheriff Howard Hornbuckle said the girl told him La Salle compelled her to leave Camden on June 15, 1948.The first week they were together, the sheriff said he was told, La Salle and the girl had sexual relations, and these relations continued until three weeks ago when a school chum in Dallas, Texas told Sally that what she was doing was wrong.

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 22, 1950 (AP) — A plump little girl of 13 told police today she accompanied a 52-year-old man on a two-year tour of the country, in fear he would expose her as a shop-lifter.

The girl, Florence Sally Horner of Camden, N. J., was found here last night after she appealed to Eastern relatives “send the FBI for me, please?”. Her companion, Frank La Salle, an unemployed mechanic, was said by County Prosecutor Michael E. Cohen in Camden to be under indictment for her abduction.

Officers said the girl told them La Salle had forced her to submit to sexual relations.The nice looking youngster, with light brown hair and blue-green eyes, attributed her troubles to a Club she joined in a Camden school. One of the requirements, she said, was that each member steal something from a ten-cent store.

She stole an article, she related, and La Salle happened to be watching her. She said he told her he was an FBI Agent; that “We have a place for girls like you.”

Sally said she went away with him, under his threat that unless she did, he would have her placed in a reform school.

SAN JOSE, Calif. March 1950 (AP) — A 13-year-old girl’s telephoned plea “send the FBI for me, please!” has ended her 21-month trans-continental travels with a 52-year-old man.Sheriff’ s deputies placed Florence (Sally) Horner in a juvenile detention home last night, after finding her in an auto court. They were awaiting word from her mother Mrs. Ella Horner of Camden, N. J. about sending Sally home.And they jailed Frank La Salle, 52, an unemployed mechanic, pending word from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 23, 1950 — (INS) — A 52-year-old mechanic with a long record of morals offenses faced a multiplicity of charges today for making a common law “child bride” at the bobby-soxer he is accused of abducting.

Frank La Salle was arraigned before U. S. Commissioner Marshall Hall yesterday on a Mann Act charge of transporting a girl across state lines for immoral purposes.

Bail was fixed at $10,000.

La Salle is accused of kidnapping 12-year-old Florence Horner from her Camden, N. J., home two years ago and forcing her to submit to sexual relations while travelling the continent. He allegedly bound the girl to him with threats to “turn her in” for a five-cent theft.

The chubby, mature looking teenager caused his arrest when she managed to telephone a sister that she wanted to go home so “please send the FBI”San Jose police, alerted by Camden authorities, found the girl in an auto court Tuesday night and a few hours later arrested La Salle when he returned in the trailer in which the two had been living.

La Salle protested he was Florence’s father but New Jersey authorities said the girl’s father had been dead for seven years .

Less than two weeks after his arrest, Frank La Salle pleaded guilty to a charge of kidnapping and was sentenced to a prison term of 30 to 35 years.

Sally returned to live with her mother, but tragically, was killed at the age of 15 in an automobile accident.

From a newspaper release:
August 20, 1952: Woodbine, N.Y. — Sally Horner, 15-year-old Camden, N. J., girl who spent 21 months as the captive of a middle-aged morals offender a few years ago, was killed in a highway mishap early Monday . Sally vanished from her Camden home in 1948 and wasn’t heard from again until 1950 when she told a harrowing story of spending 21 months as the cross-country slave of Frank LaSalle, 52.

LaSalle, a mechanic, was arrested in San Jose, Calif.... be pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and was sentenced to 30 to 35 years in prison. He was branded a “moral leper” by the sentencing judge.

03-14-2006, 08:42 PM
This is very interesting, and I hope you all forgive me for not being especially serious, but at least we know the poor girl is plump! Nearly every article makes mention of little Sally Horner's weight problem. That's not something you'll see in the media these days. The newspapers grope for anything nice to say about the people they describe, like, "though Sally struggled with her weight, she had a beautiful face and sparkling personality...".

ETA: I just read the last article. How tragic! I wonder how her parents possibly made it through all the pain.


03-14-2006, 09:22 PM
Even more interesting is that Camden, NJ back then wasn't like it is now - it was actually a good, clean, hard-working community at one time.

03-15-2006, 08:36 AM
The Sunday Times September 11, 2005
1940s sex kidnap inspired Lolita
story by Ben Dowell

LOLITA, the novel by Vladimir Nabokov about a middle-aged man’s infatuation with an underage girl, was modelled on an abduction in 1940s America, according to new research. The plot for the book, published in 1955, was based on the case of Sally Horner, a girl of 11 or 12 who was blackmailed into a sexual relationship by a 50-year-old car mechanic, an academic has found.

Both Lolita’s appearance, and much of the plot, in which the girl falls prey to Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged academic who takes her on a road trip across America, show close parallels with the Horner case. The findings are likely to stir debate among Nabokov fans and scholars, who have suggested a range of candidates for the “real Lolita”. “It was in the sad story of the New Jersey girl [Horner] that Nabokov found a psychological explanation of Lolita’s acquiescence in her role as sex slave,” said Alexander Dolinin, a lecturer in Slavic literature at the University of Wisconsin and author of several studies on Nabokov.

He describes his findings on the sources of Lolita in last Friday’s edition of The Times Literary Supplement. Dolinin reached his conclusions after researching local newspapers and newswire reports from the 1940s and 1950s — the Horner case was scarcely noticed by the national media in America.

In 1948 Florence Sally Horner was abducted and kept against her will by Frank La Salle, a mechanic. After catching her stealing a five-cent notebook in Camden, New Jersey, La Salle told her he was an FBI agent and that if she did not co-operate with him, “we have a place for girls like you”.

Horner spent 21 months living and travelling with La Salle before she confided her secret to a friend in Dallas, Texas, where she attended school. She was found in California when she made a phone call after managing to slip away from her abductor.

La Salle was jailed for 30-35 years for kidnapping in 1950. It was widely believed he and Horner had had a sexual relationship and the judge branded him a “moral leper”. In the book Humbert, an academic, stays at the house of Lolita’s mother and becomes infatuated with the daughter. He persuades Lolita to go away with him on a protracted road trip around America after her mother’s death. At one point in the book Humbert refers to the Horner case by name when reflecting on his behaviour. The full significance of this reference has not previously been realised, Dolinin argues.

“The second part of Lolita abounds with echoes of the Horner story,” said Dolinin. In both the press reports of the Horner case and the novel, the girls are described as “nice-looking youngsters”, are daughters of widowed mothers and have brown hair. Lolita’s “Florentine hands” and “Florentine breasts” evoke Horner’s first name. Both the reports and the novel refer to the girls as “child bride” and “cross-country slave”.

Other similarities include Humbert’s claims that he is Lolita’s father, and the similar duration of the pair’s sojourn together. Like Horner, Lolita’s time with the older man ends after a mysterious phone call. The eventual fate of both girls was tragic. In the novel, Lolita marries and flees to Alaska with her new husband but dies in childbirth. Horner was killed in a car accident in 1952.

A number of real-life models have been offered up as possible Lolitas including Lita Grey, who as a 15-year-old actress had sex with Charlie Chaplin when he was 35. Last year it was claimed Nabokov took the idea for the story, which was filmed by Hollywood in 1962 and 1997, from a 1916 novella written by Heinz von Eschwege, a German writer, in which the narrator is obsessed by a girl called Lolita.

1940s sex kidnap inspired Lolita - Sunday Times - Times Online


07-25-2007, 11:29 PM
From the social security death index:


born 27 May 1896

died March 1966

Last residence Trenton, Mercer, NJ (http://resources.rootsweb.com/USA/NJ/Mercer) zip code 08625

SSN 183-22-4907

Issue state Pennsylvania

03-19-2008, 02:44 PM
Bumping case up...

This case will be sixty years old this June.

I wonder if Frank LaSalle committed other similar abductions of children before he was caught and imprisoned.

03-19-2008, 04:32 PM
It's stories like these, and Shawn Hornbeck, Steven Stayner, Elizabeth Smart, etc., that make you wonder just how many of those presumed dead missing kids are actually alive and being held somewhere.

03-20-2008, 09:56 AM
I'm not so optimistic. The grave for Steven Stayner was already prepared when he manged to run away with the younger boy. (And we don't know what the future of Shawn Hornbeck would have been, if his abductor was not caught.)

No, I think when we finally will be able to compare the DNA of the missing to the DNA of the unidentified at a large scale, we will discouver that some missing children lived on hidden and shut up til their teens and were killed when they grew out of the 'interesting age'.

03-20-2008, 10:48 AM
I'm sure (sadly) that some abductors do keep kids for awhile, then kill them if they get too old or inconvenient or whatever. But I'm not at all certain that all kidnapped children eventually get murdered. Natasha Kampusch in Austria was 18 years old when she escaped; her kidnapper had held her for eight years and showed every indication of planning to continue her confinement.

03-22-2008, 11:35 PM
This is very interesting, and I hope you all forgive me for not being especially serious, but at least we know the poor girl is plump! Nearly every article makes mention of little Sally Horner's weight problem.

Such physical descriptions were common at a time when TV was still an exotic toy for the rich and newspaper photos were reserved for "important" articles. Plump can mean anything from chubby to huge but since we also know through the article that she was nice looking my bet is on the former. Also keep in mind that describing someone that is neither overweight nor underweight was a no-no: "the standard looking teenager..." is not what people wanted to read so even modest curves would make one "plump" in the papers. :)

04-17-2008, 02:27 PM
Yesterday, April 16th would have been Sally's 71st birthday.

In reading the articles about her abduction, one wonders what became of the woman who assisted Frank LaSalle. Also, how many other children had he abducted in his 54 years of life before finally being locked away.

04-17-2008, 04:44 PM
Excuse me for stating the obvious but it certainly reminds one of Sharon Marshal and Franklin Floyd. At least it did not end so tragically for Sally Horner.

04-18-2008, 02:10 PM
Excuse me for stating the obvious but it certainly reminds one of Sharon Marshal and Franklin Floyd. At least it did not end so tragically for Sally Horner.

Well, actually it did. She died two years later in a car accident. Unfortunately, no one can know exactly what she had to live through while on the move with that maggot and the emotional, physical, and mental toll it likely took on the rest of her short life.

There are many similar cases, unfortunately. Sometimes the adult pictured next to that of the Missing Child is a Non-custodial Parent, but at other times it could be an abductor.

02-01-2011, 11:05 AM
One wonders how many other children were victimized by Frank LaSalle before he was captured and convicted in 1950.

06-15-2011, 04:12 PM
I'm sure (sadly) that some abductors do keep kids for awhile, then kill them if they get too old or inconvenient or whatever. But I'm not at all certain that all kidnapped children eventually get murdered. Natasha Kampusch in Austria was 18 years old when she escaped; her kidnapper had held her for eight years and showed every indication of planning to continue her confinement.

I have recently read the book Natascha Kampus wrote about her imprisonment and I can tell you that it was only by -lots of - chance that Natascha survived. Her abductor beat and tortured her every day causing often major iniuries. She could have easily died as result of one these beatings.

04-01-2015, 12:31 AM
Bumping this case up. It is an old one and it was actually solved, but it might contribute to solving other similar abductions of the time frame.

09-02-2015, 03:20 PM
A concise recent retelling, from io9.com:

The Chilling 1948 Kidnapping That Inspired Lolita (But Was Way Scarier) (http://truecrime.io9.com/the-chilling-1948-kidnapping-that-inspired-lolita-but-1715039975)