When 12-year-old Lorna Lax left her parents’ home near San Francisco on November 14th, 1959, she left a note saying she was “mad at the world” and would return the next morning. Her parents were not alarmed explaining later that Lorna was “an unfortunate child, physically retarded and emotionally troubled.” When she had not returned by Mornday morning, they grew concerned. That afternoon Norman Fortner, thirteen, found Lorna’s body in a wooded area about two hundred yards from her home.
Fortner claimed that Lax had often used the thicket as a “sex club,” charging “initiation fees” of thity-five cents to a dollar for local boys. Visitors to the sex club were questioned. Clifford Fortner (of no relation to Norman), fifteen, told police he had gone to the thicket with Lorna early that night. Eventually, Fortner admitted that he had had sex with Lorna and then “something came over him.” He first battered her head with a torch, then strangled her with a rope from a swing nearby, and finally stabbed her in the stomach several times. Fortner was sentenced to be detained for an indefinite time.