LORNA LAX: JUSTICE
Case Analysis – Lorna Jane Lax
Case type – Homicide
Case Status – Unresolved
Credit for this COLD CASE INVESTIGATION goes to:
Gregory Mengell - Executive Director, IASC/RLI/EMERITUS
Timothy Blackwell - Chief Investigator, IASC/RLI
Kenneth McIntire - Researcher, IASC/RLI
Paul Cross - Intelligence, IASC/RLI
Alicia Gevas - Criminal Analysis, IASC/RLI
And a special thank you to ;
Marc Klaas - Executive Director, Klaas Kids
After two years investigation we have found the killer of this little girl died of Heart problems in 2012 . His family have ignored repeated requests for an interview. It is of interest that all Info services we employ show him alive and well 70 years old living in Marin County. Death certificate confirmed County reports of his death. His book seems to be closed Bell,Book and candle. As for others involved, well the book is left open for now.
Early day intro:
This regards the 1959 Homicide of 12 year old Lorna Jane Lax. This is not a profile.Simply Threshold inquiry of events 11/ 14 to 11/ 17 1959 .The following events speak to events that unfolded in that time period and shortly thereafter.
LORNA JANE LAX was a white Female juvenile possesing bright red hair who was born 3-27-1947 to John and Anna/Amy Lax. In the MISSOURI section of San Francisco California, she wieghed 65 lbs. Her mother said she was just a little kid!
Despite much that has been reported in the press, it was blown out of the realm of truth.
Lorna was a chronic runaway, She was not .Yes she did go to the State fair. She ran to something not away from anything. It was an ill thought out adventure yes that is true.
Missing overnight yes. She would spend many nights sleeping out under the sky on the neighbor ladies deck, or sometimes she would visit girl friends or the boys less than two blocks away. Many reports tend to confuse the child borne in dire straits due to health problems with the miracle of a young girl just entering her teens. The child portrayed and the young girl written about were quite different. Despite being in some aspects quite fragile she was a good student, did acceptable work while attending Kent elementary.
She was in the school`s International day She was part of the Irish group that sang songs from Ireland. Also she had learned 200 words of Russian for Nikita Khrushchev`s visit to the US that year.
Lorna was quite active in Brownies and Girl Scouts and had many merit badges. In the process of our interviews we found one young girl now the authors age who said "if you shared your lunch with her she would be your friend for life. I do not think she would do those things, That just was not her.
Mr. Lax said that when the real truth came out it would be a lot different than what those who were doing the talking were saying" Right again.
The friendship that bloomed with the neighbor boy actually started with his younger brother almost two years earlier. The children frequented each others house,They were playmates.
As time passed a lethal component to this equation was added.
The older brother came to live with her child hood friend. Enter Clifford on the scene. His idea of playing had a darker side to it. Lorna loved horse play grappling and wrestling. With the sadist affection translates into violence.
Clifford raped her in the spring of 1959.Lorna had just turned 12 years old. Still very much a 65 pound red haired little girl who went to church with her parents. She had not missed church since she was six years old. She was baptized recieved first Communion and was Confirmed by age 12. As far as being a rebel without a cause. Lorna as Amy Lax put it 'she was just a little kid ."She had plenty of local friends
Lorna enjoyed the out doors and was an avid swimmer also mastering and enjoying her bike. She enjoyed going fishing and hiking with her Dad. She was in the seventh grade. She maintained a small group of neighbor hood friends Such as Patty Dower, Among these were Clifford and Norman Fortner and Jeff Doherty. She had many childhood friends but unfortunately these three young men would play a pivotal role in events that were about to transpire on 11/ 14 thru 11/ 25 1959.
She was quoted by her mother as saying -I hate house work!!!!!-
This theme was overblown by the Press at that time the late 50 `s thru the 70`s many children had forts. Usually contrivances showing the talent of kids putting together something out of nothing.
This author remembers building forts in empty lots throwing dirt clods at the opposing fort ten feet away it was part of the culture.
This child built stages to put on puppet shows for kids. She has a friend in her back door neighbor Mrs Rogers who would encourage her camping ideas by supplying items left by moving residents, as she herself had done Lorna had 2 camps One was 150 feet from her last camp along Ross Creek.
One November 10th it was burned down, On the morning of the 14 she had rode her bike to the Fire Chiefs house and was trying to explain to her friend the Fire Chiefs daughter to no avail She was too busy watching all her younger sisters to be much help. Lorna`s last appeal for help went unheeded.
The new improved fort came to the attention of Clifford and his crew. On November 14 Lorna went with Clifford to a Football game then on to her camp where he raped her repeatedly, beat her with her fathers flashlight Hung her and stabbed her repeatedly with a six inch steak knife.
Lorna seemed happy as a Lark before bedtime ON 11/ 14 watching science and educational shows-verified by checking T.V. logs from that period- then she vanished with a now well publicized note. Lorna said she was going to the City.-To see who? For what purpose? Handwriting comparison must have been done? Wording is a little suspect for a well educated 7 th grader. All the while promising to be back for church Sunday Morning.
Mr Lax issued a statement that rings true more than 50 years later-Thinking she would be back any moment They did not ask her friends out of fear of embarasing publicity.
BUT WE REALIZE NOW IT WAS A GREAT ERROR.WE SHOULD HAVE REPORTED IT IMMEDEATLY. IT WAS A GREAT ERROR. When asked if the parents knew of this fort Mrs Lax said `HEAVENS NO!
Reporters asked the Lax`s why it had taken nearly a week to come to their daughter`s defense? Mr Lax said`I had to put my baby to bed first. That`s WHY! Lorna`s mother said they put a prayer book and rosary-in the coffin when she went yesterday.
One of five brothers, played Basketball, worked as a grocery delivery boy after school. He had an avid interest in fixing radios.
At 15 he had a dark influence over his little brother`s friend Lorna. He bullied her around had forcible sex with her, threatened to tell her parents or disclose to others what she had experienced from him.
Mr. Lax said "We did not know what had happened, Lorna never told us. We could see something was wrong. He lived right around the corner and knew he got away with it so he knew he would do it again. She was under his dark power."
As of the crime he said" I stabbed her six time but the knife would not go in.I stabbed her near the navel twice and she finally DIED!
Daily Independent Journal 11 /10 1959 Lorna`s old fort burned down by persons unknown.It was 150 feet from the homicide scene.Lorna went to fire chiefs house to complain and was ignored by his 13 year old daughter.
Independent Journal 11 17 1959 Front page far right.`Possibility of Suicide faded into the background as Sheriff`s investigators presses an intensive search for the killer of Lorna Jane Lax a seventh grade student at Kent Grade school.she lived with her parents at 147 Kent Ave.Although the outdoors type she was on the fragile side.Neighbor described her as gracious,considerate person who loved everyone.she was a boyish type who loved to build forts
Daily Independent Journal 11-17 Police rule out Suicide.She was fragile and had had pnuemonia several times Interview in Oakland Tribune feared she had died of exposure.-Temp was 37f and clear sky with Full moon.
11 17 Daily Independent Journal Daily Independant Journal 11 18 1959 Article on local Druid info. page 10 daily Independent Journal page 10 Doherty frequented the club on a regular basis. His backyard bordered the Lax residence. see 11 24 11 19 INTERNATIONAL DAY IRISH DANCING AND AUTHENTIC IRIH SONG. Crime scene question answered Sleeping bag returned to Craig Hope 120 Kentfield bags recovered from homicide.Lorna had been killed in one. 11 20 Friday.Independent Journal Detectives Initial Knife wound questioned. Why would he plunge once downward -serrated edge downward then turn the knife around serrated face up and plunge it again? The inspector wondered-this raised the posibilty the blade was used twice??????? There were many hesitation marks around the two fatal wounds. Daily Independent Journal 11 20 Night of the crime Lorna went to local Football game with Clifford although he made it appear he was not with her .Each club member recall seeing her at the game.. Daily Independent Journal 11 24 1959 Fortner only brush with the law in Calif. was that Mrs Fortner`s son Clifford took two little coaster wheels but apologized and returned the wheels .This happened around a year prior to his Killing of Lorna Jane Lax.
IN THE END:
Lorna was not a bad kid, or a horrid little girl, She went to school had good grades and extracurricular activities wanted to fit in and did.
Lorna loved her dog and "hated housework" She cried when taunted as many 12 year old girl might but she never let her problems keep her down. This was a Blameless Child, She was the center of her mothers life and fishing buddy of her father who loved to take her camping."Never lie down to sickness" was the family mantra.
We can find no serious fault not explained by her age and prior victimization .
As for Clifford he got away with this crime but perhaps not completely .He went to Juvenile Hall then to Langley Porter from which he escaped twice he then went to Youth Authority He was released as ' still a little less a threat to the community".
He worked for awhile with computers then managed a Storage facility in northern Marin county.
He died there alone in a shack a victim of heart problems. He lived virtually unknown to the public records."unusual for a 70 year old man maturing in the age of internet scrutiny.
How many more victims were there? Are they being continued by his associates. Volumes more could be written on this but not here now. As mentioned earlier there are a few whose books have not been closed yet.
It is not that we want Lorna exhumed and buried in the Catholic cemetery in Kentfield. Her resting place where her mother was later buried is an acceptable resting place for this mother and daughter. But, the bitter taste of her being buried in a secular cemetery to begin with was because her priest believed without evidence the lies that were told about this child.
This is injustice that must be corrected, but not for Lorna's eternal soul. God knows the child was an innocent victim. Lorna was not, as we have investigated and substantiated ... a person in need of repentance for "acts of infamy" as the priest at that time openly said and the opinion of the current church authority now holds.
Her infamy, HOW CAN A CHILD HAVE INFAMY, kept her from being buried in a Catholic cemetery. There was "no infamy" of Lorna. The infamy was the dastardly gossip contrived and accepted then and evidently now by the Catholic Church and others involved in the investigation.
What is needed for the remnants of Lorna's family and those of us who are her friends, is for the Catholic Church to openly retract the remark made by the priest that was given as a reason why she was not buried in the Catholic cemetery near her BELOVED church and subsequently, her mother also was not buried in the Catholic cemetery because of the rejection of her daughter.
The church has not thoroughly looked into this travesty. That is what we, her friends and her sister, need to hear from the church.
Lorna Jane Lax DID NOT live a life of infamy but was a minor child castigated and defamed by her community and by the church that she loved.
RETRACT THOSE STATEMENTS AND PUBLISH IT IN THE MARIN JOURNAL and the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE NEWSPAPERS, THAT IS WHAT WE WANT.
Always know what your children are doing and with whom. Tell them no matter what happens good or bad they can always confide in you. Watch for inordinate intrest in your child from much older boys. Demand modern Search and Rescue and Child abuse prosecution efforts by police agencies. As for the Press be watchfull what they print. The 1st Amendment protects everyone, Before I wander into other fields I will conclude with one admonition Please listen to your child or another in distress.
For they cannot sleep unless they have first done wrong. They miss their sleep if they have not brought someone down. Wickedness is the bread they eat and violence the wine they drink
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IASC / RLI