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.

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

Abduction[edit]

In 1948, the 11-year-old Horner stole a 5-cent notebook from a store 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 send her to "a place for girls like you". Then he abducted the girl and spent 21 months traveling with her over different American states during which period he is thought to have raped her repeatedly. While attending school in Dallas, Texas, she 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.

Florence Horner died in a car accident near Woodbine, New Jersey, on August 18, 1952. 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."[1]

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.[2] Though Nabokov had already used the same basic idea — that of a child molester and his victim booking into a hotel as man and daughter — in his then unpublished 1939 work Volshebnik (Волшебник), it is still possible that he drew on the details of the Florence Horner case in writing Lolita. An English translation of Volshebnik was published in 1985 as The Enchanter. Nabokov explicitly mentions this 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?"

External links[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/dolilol.htm
  2. ^ Ben Dowell, "1940s sex kidnap inspired Lolita", The Sunday Times, September 11, 2005. Accessed on November 14, 2007.