Florence Sally Horner

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Florence Sally Horner
Studio portrait of Florence Sally Horner sitting on a swing.
Undated photograph of Florence Sally Horner
Born(1937-04-18)April 18, 1937
DiedAugust 18, 1952(1952-08-18) (aged 15)
Known forKidnapping victim

Florence Sally Horner (April 18, 1937 – August 18, 1952) was a girl abducted by serial child molester Frank La Salle in 1948.


In March of 1948, 11-year-old Horner attempted to steal a 5-cent notebook from a Woolworths in Camden, New Jersey. Frank La Salle, a 50-year-old mechanic, caught her stealing, told her that he was an FBI agent, and threatened to have her sent to a reform school unless she reported to him periodically.

In June of 1948 he abducted Sally. La Salle instructed her to tell her mother he was the father of two of her school friends and she had been invited on their family vacation to the Jersey Shore. He spent 21 months traveling with her in different U.S. states. According to charges later brought against La Salle, it was during this period that he raped her repeatedly. While attending school in Dallas, Texas, Horner confided her secret to a friend. Later she escaped from La Salle, and phoned her sister at home, asking her to send the FBI. When arrested on March 22, 1950, in San Jose, California, La Salle claimed that he was Florence's father. However, authorities in New Jersey confirmed that Horner's father had died seven years previously. La Salle was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 30 to 35 years in prison under the Mann Act.


Horner died in a car accident near Woodbine, New Jersey, on August 18, 1952.[1] As the Associated Press reported on August 20, 1952: "Florence Sally Horner, a 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 accident when the car in which she was riding plowed into the rear of a parked truck."[2]

Cultural references[edit]

Critic Alexander Dolinin proposed in 2005 that Frank La Salle and Florence Sally Horner were the real life prototypes of Humbert Humbert and Dolores "Lolita" Haze from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.[3] Although Nabokov had already used the same basic idea—that of a child molester and his victim booking into a hotel as father and daughter—in his then unpublished 1939 work Volshebnik (Волшебник),[4] it is still possible that he drew on the details of the Horner case in writing Lolita. An English translation of Volshebnik was published in 1985 as The Enchanter.[5] Nabokov explicitly mentions the Horner case in Chapter 33, Part II of Lolita: "Had I done to Dolly, perhaps, what Frank Lasalle, a fifty-year-old mechanic, had done to eleven-year-old Sally Horner in 1948?"

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Waldman, Katy (2018-09-17). "The Salacious Non-Mystery of "The Real Lolita"". The New Yorker.
  • McAlpin, Heller (2018-09-11). "'The Real Lolita' Investigates The True Crime Story Of Sally Horner". NPR.
  • Weinman, Sarah (2018-09-11). The Real Lolita. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780062661920.
  • Greenwood, T. (2018-08-07). Rust and Stardust. St. Martins Press. ISBN 9781250164193.


  1. ^ Weinman, Sarah (September 6, 2018). "The Last Days of the Real Lolita: What happened after Sally Horner, whose story helped inspire the novel, returned home". The Cut.
  2. ^ Dolinin, Alexander. "What Happened to Sally Horner?". libraries.psu.ed.
  3. ^ Dowell, Ben (September 11, 2005). "1940s Sex Kidnap Inspired Lolita". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 2005-09-11. Retrieved November 14, 2007.
  4. ^ Nabokov, Vladimir. Volshebnik. ISBN 5389056639.
  5. ^ Nabokov, Vladimir. The Enchanter. ISBN 0679728864.