Judye Perelson awoke about 5 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 6, 1959, to find her father, noted heart surgeon Dr. Harold Perelson, beating her in the head with a ball-peen hammer. The 18-year-old girl managed to fight off her father’s attack and escape their home at 2475 Glendower Place in Los Angeles and go to a neighbor’s home. The two other Perelson children, 13-year-old Joel and 11-year-old Debbie, woke up and were told to go back to sleep by their father, who insisted what they were experiencing was a dream. They did not listen and fled.
The neighbor, Marshall Ross, called police and then went to the Perelson’s house to see what was going on. Ross found Perelson in an agitated state and advised him to go lay down, which he did, disappearing into one of the home’s bedrooms.
When police arrived they discovered Perelson’s 42-year-old wife Lillian dead in her blood-soaked bed. She had been killed with the same hammer Perelson used to attack Judye. The 50-year-old doctor was dead in a separate bedroom. The murder weapon, empty pill bottles, and a copy of Dante’s “Divine Comedy” lay next to his body. It was later revealed he had died from an overdose of barbiturates.