FLORENCE "SALLY" HORNER was living with her widowed mother, Mrs. Ella Horner, at 944 Linden Street in North Camden when in June of 1948 she was  abducted by Frank LaSalle. La Salle took her across the country, keeping her in captivity for 21 months until she managed to contact authorities. LaSalle was returned to New Jersey and sent to Trenton State Prison, where he died in 1966. Sally returned home, but tragically was killed in an automobile accident in 1952.

The case apparently attracted the attention of Russian-born novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who based his novel Lolita in great part to the reported events and circumstances surrounding the Sally Horner abduction.

In November of 2014 author Sarah Weinman published an article in the on-line Hazlitt magazine, titled The Real Lolita, which without a doubt is the best and most comprehensive account of the incident, of who the parties involved were, and what became of them afterwards. I highly recommend that you take the time to read this article, which also has a number of high quality images in it.

Phil Cohen
November 30, 2014

Sally Horner & Frank LaSalle
Photo from  Sarah Weinman's article, The Real Lolita

Excerpted from

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. Camden County Prosecutor referred to La Salle as a "moral leper".

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.J. — 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.