Photo Of The Day

John Holmes; John Holmes by Mark Sullivan; John Holmes, Self Assignment, November 1, 1975; Los Angeles; California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images)

John Holmes; November 1, 1975; Los Angeles; California. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images)

The Devil and John Holmes

John Holmes was a porn star. Eddie Nash was a drug lord. Their association ended in one of the most brutal mass murders in the history of Los Angeles.

Holmes’s biggest commodity had been trouble. He was freebasing one hit of coke every ten or fifteen minutes, swallowing forty to fifty Valium a day to cut the edge. The drugs affected his work, he couldn’t work in porn. Now he was a drug delivery boy for the Wonderland Gang. His mistress, Jeana, who’d been with him since she was fifteen, was turning tricks to support his habit. They were living out of the trunk of his estranged wife’s Chevy Malibu. Holmes was stealing luggage off conveyers at L.A. International, buying appliances with his wife’s credit cards, fencing them for cash.

Since the late Sixties, Holmes had traded on his natural endowment. In a career that would span twenty years, Holmes made about 3000 pornographic films, had sex with 14,000 women. At the height of his popularity, he earned $3000 a day on films and almost as much turning tricks, servicing wealthy men and women on both coasts and in Europe.

He got hooked on drugs, primarily cocaine, which eventually rendered him incapable of performing. He was always late to the set, and when he finally did show up he’d disappear into the bathroom for hours at a time. After which point, of course, he was scatterbrained and unable to perform. Then he stopped getting roles.

During the height of his drug addiction, Holmes went broke and turned to crime to support his habit. He stole luggage from the baggage claim at LAX, sold things he purchased with his wife’s charge cards, broke into cars. Somewhere around this time, John got involved with alleged drug dealer Eddie Nash, who had an unsavory reputation.

According to John’s wife Laura: “He was an awful man… John told me he used to leave the bathrooms without toilet paper, then offer the young women cocaine if they’d lick him clean.”

In June 1981, four of John’s acquaintances raided 8763 Wonderland Avenue, Eddie Nash’s house. They forced Nash at gunpoint to open a floor safe, which yielded more than $100,000 in cash, $150,000 in jewelry, eight pounds of cocaine, a kilo of heroin, and 5,000 quaaludes. Nobody died that night.

When the gang returned to their Laurel Canyon hideout, Holmes was waiting for them. He freebased some of the coke and then they cut him in. He received a paltry $3,000 for having unlocked Nash’s back door the night before. A few days later, Nash somehow caught up with Holmes and persuaded him to confess. Then they all went to Laurel Canyon and brutally murdered everyone in the hideout.

John was tried in 1982 for his involvement in the Wonderland slayings. Holmes was defended by attorney Earl Hanson, who later represented serial killer William G Bonin.

Deep in Laurel Canyon, the Wonderland Gang was planning its last heist. It was Sunday evening and the drugs were gone, the money was gone, the situation was desperate. They’d sold a pound of baking soda for a quarter of a million dollars: There were contracts out on their lives. Now they had another idea. They sat around a glass table in the breakfast nook. Before them were two pairs of handcuffs, a stolen police badge, several automatic pistols and a dogeared sheet of paper, a floor plan. They needed a score. This was it.

There were seven of them meeting in the house on Wonderland Avenue, a jaundiced stucco box on a steep, winding road in the hills above Hollywood. Joy Audrey Miller, 46, lived there. She was thin, blond, foul-mouthed, a heroin addict with seven arrests. She had two daughters, had once been married to a Beverly Hills attorney. A year ago, she’d been busted for dealing drugs out of the Wonderland house. Six months ago she’d had a double mastectomy. Her lover was Billy DeVerell. DeVerell, 42, was also a heroin addict. He had a slight build, a pockmarked face, a record of thirteen arrests. “He looked like a guy in a dive bar in El Paso,” according to a neighbour.

The house at 8763 Wonderland rented for $750 a month. There was a garage on the first floor; the second and third floors had balconies facing the street. A stairway, leading from the garage to the front door, was caged in iron. There was a telephone at the entrance, an electronic deadbolt on the gate, two pit bulls sleeping on the steps.

Though elaborately secure, the house was paint-cracked and rust-stained, an eyesore in a trendy neighborhood. Laurel Canyon had long been a prestige address, an earthy, woodsy setting just minutes from the glitter and rush of Tinseltown. Tom Mix and Harry Houdini once lived there among the quail and scrub pine and coyotes. Later, in the Sixties, the canyon attracted writers and artists, rock stars and gurus. Number 8763 Wonderland Avenue had some history of its own: Paul Revere and the Raiders once lived there.

By the Eighties, former California governor Jerry Brown was living on Wonderland Avenue, and Steven Spielberg was building on a lot not far away. The house at 8763 had passed from a raucous group of women—neighbors recall naked women being tossed from the first-floor balcony—to the members of the Wonderland Gang. Things at the house were always hopping, someone was always showing up with a scam. Miller, DeVerell and Launius needed drugs every day. They were always looking for an opportunity. Jewelry stores, convenience stores, private homes—they would try anything, as long as it meant money or drugs.

“There was a lot of traffic, all day, all night,” says a neighbour. “Everything from Volkswagens to a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. They threw brown bags of dope off the balcony. There was shouting, laughing, rock & roll twenty-four hours a day.”

If only walls could talk, they’d tell the truth about what went down during the early morning hours of July 1, 1981 at the modest house. It was a very seedy place inhabited by a seedy bunch of people certainly doing a lot of seedy stuff – illegal drugs, burglaries, robberies, pornography and who knows what else. While some of those involved have chosen to take the truth with them to the grave, enough about that night has gotten out to put together a fairly good picture of what actually happened.

Police would arrive at the Wonderland house in mid-afternoon on July 1 answering a call from a professional mover who reported hearing moans and groans emanating from an adjacent house. Inside the apartment, police would find the mangled bodies of four murder victims, their skulls caved in and faces so badly beaten some were not initially identifiable. In fact, one police officer would later describe a scene so gruesome it appeared as if someone had splashed buckets of blood all over the house. The voice the mover heard was that of the so-called fifth victim who survived the tragedy despite a crushed skull and having been left for dead for more than 12 hours.

The Laurel Canyon house was leased by Joy Audrey Miller, and living with her was her 42 year-old boyfriend Billy DeVerell (who had been arrested 13 times), freelance bounty hunter David Lind and a friend Ronald Launius who’d done federal time for drug smuggling. The group made their way by posing as police officers, ripping off other drug dealers and confiscating their stash. They would then sell the drugs to their own customers. A dangerous way to make a living for sure. A frequent visitor and pad-crasher, was John Holmes, the falling porn star who’d made millions hawking his notoriously lengthy member to pornographic movie producers during the sexual revolution of the ’70s. It was this connection to Holmes that more than likely brought about the demise of the den of iniquity, even though police had already pegged it as a drug house.

At the end of his “lengthy” career, Holmes would find himself down and out, reduced to an emaciated cocaine addict who resorted to breaking into cars and stealing luggage from LAX airport to support his gigantic coke habit. Holmes would eventually meet up with Palestinian Adel Nasrallah, a flamboyant nightclub owner also known as Eddie Nash. Some may remember the shockingly accurate portrayal of Nash by Alfed Molina in the 1997 porn industry satire, Boogie Nights. He was the drug dealer who would prance around his house in robe and speedo to the music of Night Ranger’s Sister Christian. Anyway, Nash was a huge drug dealer by the late ’70s and would often sell to the patrons of his clubs, Kit Kat and Starwood, the latter of which once featured such bands as Quiet Riot, Motley Crue and Van Halen. One of his most reliable clients however, was John Holmes, who would spend nearly $750,000 on cocaine in one particular year in the late ’70s. But with his porn career now just limping along, Holmes would see his habit grow, and his fortune dwindle – a dangerous and apparently deadly combination of circumstances.

Eddie Nash.

Eddie Nash.

Nash was a drug dealer and a heavy user. His drug of choice was freebase, home-cooked crack cocaine, and he was smoking it at the rate of two to three ounces a day. He always had large quantities of coke, heroin, Quaaludes and other drugs at the house. His bodyguard, Gregory DeWitt Diles, was a karate expert and convicted felon who weighed a blubbery 300 pounds. According to one eyewitness, Diles once chased a man out of the Kit Kat and emptied his .38 revolver into the man’s car. The car was on the other side of Santa Monica Boulevard, across six lanes of traffic. The time was 2:30 in the afternoon. No one was injured.

Nash and Diles were well known on Sunset Strip. “Eddie Nash assumed he deserved a certain amount of respect,” says one denizen. “If somebody stuffed with him . . .”

In the Spring of 1981 Holmes was hanging out with the Wonderland gang sleeping in the house for nights at a time. But despite his prior notoriety and fame, he was really just a hanger-on who the gang viewed as nothing more than an errand boy and house monkey. He was a joke to them. But his value was in his connection to Nash. And Holmes was willing to help them set up a hit on the drug lord’s Studio City mansion. Holmes informed the Wonderland Gang that on a previous visit to Nash’s house, he had left the sliding glass door unlocked and that Nash kept loads of drugs, jewelry, and cash on hand. Holmes even drew up a map of the house for the crew.

Accounts vary widely as to who and how many actually did the job, but on the morning of June 29, 1981, three or four men, DeVerell, Lanius, Lind, and an accomplice named Tracy McCourt would let themselves in through the unlocked door, identify themselves as policemen and handcuff Nash’s 300-pound bodyguard, Gregory Diles. Diles was also loosely depicted in Boogie Nights. But while handcuffing him, one of the perpetrators’ guns would go off, waking Nash in his bedroom. Thinking he was about to be killed, Nash would drop to his knees, open the safe and beg for mercy. The crew fled with drugs (heroin, cocaine, Quaaludes), jewelry, and cash totaling about $185,000. The U.S. Department of Justice would later estimate the take at approximately $1 million. They had hit Nash, and hit him hard. But an even bigger sting was that they had humiliated him.

Once back at the Wonderland house, the crew would divide the take amongst themselves, in the process shortchanging Holmes and McCourt. Furious at not only having been robbed, but humiliated as well, Nash would vow revenge. And his chief suspect was the porn star. It seems that Holmes was spotted by some of Nash’s associates walking around in Hollywood wearing a piece of jewelry stolen from his home.

What happened over the next few days would be disputed by most involved, but regardless, it would lead to one of the most gruesome murders in Los Angeles history, The Black Dahlia case and the Manson murders included.

It is believed that under the orders of Nash, Diles and a couple of others (one of whom may or may not have been Holmes), would break into the house at 8763 Wonderland with striated steel pipes in hand, and systematically proceed from room to room bashing in the skulls of the occupants. When it was all said and done, four people would be killed and another gravely injured. Neighbors reported hearing the commotion but rather than call the police, they just figured it was another raucous night of partying, so one neighbor just turned up the TV to drown out the noise.

As the prowlers entered the house, they would first kill Barbara Richardson, Lind’s 22 year-old girlfriend sleeping in the downstairs living room. Her body would be discovered in front of a sofa, half covered with a pink and white bedspread. She was just visiting the Wonderland house and unfortunately was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the rear downstairs bedroom the killers would happen upon Ronald Launius and his wife Susan, whose moans would later grab the attention of the mover. She was beaten and terribly mutilated but still alive and breathing. The killers then crept upstairs where they beat Miller to death on her bed, her boyfriend Deverell would be found lying in a corner of the same room, dead from a massive skull injury.

Police were so overwhelmed by the amount of blood at the crime scene that they decided to videotape it (remember that video cameras were relatively new at the time.) The video would eventually be used during the trial, marking the first time in American history that video was used as evidence in a criminal trial. The actual police footage with narration can be seen as an extra feature on the DVD release of Wonderland starring Val Kilmer.

One of the Wonderland residents just happened to be in the right place at the right time. David Lind was apparently spending the night with a hooker in a sleazy motel in the San Fernando Valley where he’d dealt some drugs earlier that night. Who says prostitution doesn’t pay? During a police interrogation, Lind would eventually spill the beans about the Nash break-in and its possible connection to the horrible murders. The police now had something to work with. One question that went unanswered however, was where Holmes was during all the commotion.

John Holmes and Sharon – The Early Years ...

John Holmes and Sharon – The Early Years …

In later years, Holmes would reveal to his wife Sharon, that the revenge seekers forced him to accompany them and watch the murders. Though he claims to not having participated in the actual killings, a handprint was found on the headboard of a bed in one of the bedrooms. Soon after the murders however, Holmes would flee to Florida with his girlfriend (not his wife) and refuse to talk to police about that night. But working with the evidence of the handprint, the police would eventually charge Holmes with the murders and ask him to squeal on Nash. But Holmes didn’t want to play that game. A jury acquitted Holmes of the murder charges on June 16, 1982. He refused to cooperate with authorities on the ongoing investigation however and would even spend a little time in the pokey for contempt of court.

He was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1986, but continued to make films without informing any of his partners of his status.

On March 13, 1988 at a VA medical center, (specifically the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care and Nursing Home Care Unit), Holmes would succumb to the ravages of AIDS. He was but 43 years of age. In the few short weeks before his death, police were by his deathbed hoping to elicit a confession about the Wonderland case. Holmes would say nothing however.

Shortly after the murders, police would search Nash’s home and uncover more than a million dollars in cocaine for which he would spend 2 years in prison. But they still had nothing on him for the murders. In 1990, Nash would be charged in state court with having planned the murders. His bodyguard, Diles was charged with committing them. The trial would end with a hung jury, a single 18-year-old female juror holding out. A second trial was held in 1991 and it ended in an acquittal. Nash could not be tied to the Wonderland murders. Diles would die in 1995.

John Holmes had one final request of his wife, Laurie Holmes, before he died. He was afraid that someone would want to detach and jar his famous penis for display, so he requested that she ensure his body was intact before being cremated. In his book, Porn King, Laurie wrote that everything was where it was supposed to be. Ironically, his famous appendage does live on for posterity and can be bought in many sex shops and even on the Internet.

In 2000, after a four-year joint investigation involving local and federal authorities, Nash was arrested and indicted on federal charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for running a drug trafficking and money laundering operation, conspiring to carry out the Wonderland Murders, and bribing the sole holdout juror of his first trial. Nash, already in his seventies and suffering from emphysema and several other ailments, agreed to a plea bargain agreement in September 2001. He admitted to having bribed the lone holdout in his first trial, a young woman, with $50,000, and pled guilty to the RICO charges and to money laundering. He also admitted to having ordered his associates to retrieve stolen property from the Wonderland house, which might have resulted in violence including murder, yet he denied having planned the Wonderland murders. In the end, Nash received a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.

“You know,” says Detective Lange, “there’s no mystery here. Every time you read something, they say it’s a big mystery. Or the local TV says it’s a big mystery. Or that show out of New York, you know, A Current Affair. Big mystery. Like aliens or something. There’s no mystery. John Holmes didn’t go to his grave with anything but a very bad case of AIDS. He told us everything initially, right after it happened.”

“But it’s one thing to tell someone something,” says Lange. “It’s another thing to testify to it in court.”

Timeline

8 Aug 1944 John Curtis Estes born on the kitchen table, Ashville, Pickaway County OH.
1946 Mother marries Edward Holmes.
1948 Attends Milport Chapel Church Sunday School for twelve years.
1956 Deflowered by a 36 year old woman.
1960 Joins the U.S. Army at age 16, stations at Nuremberg: “The Army was good for me. I can’t honestly say that it taught me any morals or sense of responsibility. I had been raised with those qualities. What it taught me was that there was a whole world of sex I had yet to discover.”
1963 Discharged from Army.
Aug 1965 Marries nurse Sharon Gebenini.
c. 1966 Appears uncredited in gay porno reels, sometime in the mid-1960’s.
1968 Measures his member, according to legend and interviews. But by this time he had already appeared in pornos. In a 1989 Rolling Stone article, ex-wife Sharon recalled John’s self-amazement when he measured his penis in 1968: “It goes from five inches all the way to ten. Ten inches long! Four inches around!” That night, to Sharon’s dismay, he revealed his intention to become a porn actor.
1969 Appears in first credited porno, Body Lust.
May 1972 Chuck Holmes (later founder of Falcon Entertainment) distributes their first mail order flyer for a selection of gay 8mm films, one of which stars John Holmes.
c. 1972 Arrested for pimping and pandering. Becomes a stoolie to escape the charges.
1973 Private Investigator Johnny Wadd makes his film debut.
Jun 1975 My favorite recipe is Stuffed Veal a la Oscar. Oscar is asparagus with cream sauce on top of a very thick cut of veal that’s sliced. And you stuff it with stuffing, and you sew it together and bake it. And then when it’s ready, you pour this Hollandaise asparagus on top. And it’s magnificent.”
1976 Befriends (in a most nonwholesome manner) 16 year old runaway Dawn Schilling, lets her move in with John and his wife.
1981 Arrested for theft (stealing a computer.)
29 Jun 1981 Wonderland robbery.
4 Dec 1981 Arrested over Wonderland robbery.
20 May 1982 Charged with murder, with regards to Wonderland house.
1982 Wife Sharon divorces John while he’s in jail.
16 Jun 1982 Acquitted of Wonderland charges.
22 Nov 1982 Released from jail after contempt charges (over his silence at trial.)
Jun 1983 John Holmes to Al Goldstein at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: “You’re gaining weight, Goldstein. You should be on the same diet I’m on, the cocaine diet.”
1983 Makes gay porno with Joey Yale, who definitely has AIDS at this time, The Private Pleasures of John C. Holmes.
18 Apr 1986 Joey Yale dies of AIDS.
1986 Tests HIV positive. Continues to fuck like a bunny.
1987 Marries former porn actress and hooker Laurie Rose aka Misty Dawn, at the Little Chapel of the Flower in Las Vegas. John’s reaction to a friend: I think I’m married. I’m all stuffed up. I’m not sure, but I’ve got a ring, Laurie’s with me and I think we’re married.
13 Mar 1988 John Holmes dead from AIDS.
12 Oct 1997 Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights premieres, roughly based on the life of John Holmes.
1998 Film Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes.

Eddie Nash Return to Wonderland

The Death of John Holmes Johnny Wadd Wonderland

Dawn Schiller Interview – Dawn Schiller on Affair with

John Holmes (actor) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Holmes doesn’t reveal all in 1962 – NY Daily …

Wonderland murders – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The wonderland murders the full program uk tv – YouTube

Holmes’ Confession in Bathtub: Told Wife of Role in 4 Murders

 


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