Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Clifford FORTNER





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (15) - Allegedly post-coital rage
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 15, 1959
Date of arrest: December 2, 1959
Date of birth: 1944
Victim profile: A 12-year-old girl named Lorna Lax
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Status: Unknown

November 14, 1959 - A 12-year-old girl named Lorna Lax vanishes in San Francisco. Her beaten, stabbed and strangled body was found in woods the next day. It was later discovered that she'd been prostituting herself to local boys. Clifford Fortner, a 15-year-old, eventually confessed to the killing and was incarcerated.


Who was Lorna Lax?

On Sunday, November 15, 1959, the same day the infamous Clutter murders in Kansas captured the nations' attention (which became the subject of Truman Capote's 1966 In Cold Blood), Lorna Lax, a twelve year old Kentfield, California girl, was stabbed and hung from a tree in suburban Marin County. The victim was described as a "tormented" girl: delinquent and a runaway. According to news reports at the time, the juvenile knew how to use sex for pleasure and gain.

So it begs to be asked: how, in the supposedly repressed sexual environment of the 1950s, did a twelve year old girl become addicted to sex which, ultimately, cost her her life?

The murderer was a 15 year old boy from the neighborhood: Clifford Fortner. He rendezvoused with his victim around midnight, after a football game. Miss Lax had created a "fort" in the trees not far from her house where she deflowered and serviced the local boys in her "sex club."

In an allegedly post-coital rage, Clifford beat Miss Lax with a flashlight, then stabbed her with a steak knife (that he must have brought with him). He then tied a noose around Miss Lax neck and hung her from the fig tree under which they had had sexual intercourse. Miss Lax body was found the next day by the murderer's brother, Norman Fortner, age 13, who accepted an "invitation" from Miss Lax to "come see her fort."

After the initial shock of the crime wore off, the juveniles involved disappeared into obscurity: a person by the name of Clifford Fortner still resides in Oakland, California, but the Lax family and Norman Fortner are nowhere to be found.




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