One of the best scenes in the movie Boogie Nights is based on real life events.
One of Los Angeles’ most gruesome cases – The Wonderland Murders.
Having been a cop I’ve seen elements of criminal psychology from the inside, so I guess I’m fascinated by stories like these.
Why people do the things they do.
Mention Boogie Nights as one of the finest movies ever made and the usual response is;
That movie with Marc Wahlberg as the porn star?
That’s doing this film a huge disservice.The movie is about a dysfunctional family who happen to work in the porn industry in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Not blood related, but family none the less.
It’s a tour de force of direction, editing, screenwriting, soundtrack, characterization, acting, and yes, performance.
It encapsulates the golden era of that time so brilliantly that when it shifts into it’s downward spiral – the early 1980’s, you can actually feel it. You know there’s bad juju on the horizon.
No scene in the movie signifies this more than one of it’s last.
To pre frame it:
Dirk Diggler has almost hit rock bottom. He’s living in a crappy motel with a huge cocaine habit. He’s persona non grata within the industry he was the king of. No one wants to hire him anymore. He can’t perform in his industry because of his drug use. Everyone knows it. He’s broke. He’s out of coke and out of money.
So are his friends. His drug addled friend, Todd comes up with a plan;
he knows a guy who always has lots of money and drugs around him. This guy likes to stay at home and party. With anyone.
Todd dumps half a kilogram of baking soda into a bag. He convinces the others they’ll sell it to this guy as cocaine for $ 5000.
He’ll never know.
It leads to the epic scene below; it’s one of the most tense scenes in modern cinema history?
Dirk hits his rock bottom.
Boogie Nights was directed by the then 27 year old Paul Thomas Anderson. 27!
His movies since then show you the immense talent he showed with this one.
Boogie Nights was inspired by a 1989 Rolling Stone article, the devil and john holmes
It’s an invaluable resource in the chronology of the Wonderland murders
In Boogie Nights, Dirk Diggler was based off the true life John Holmes.
Rahad Jackson was based off the true life Eddie Nash.
John Holmes looking untrustworthy
In 1981 John Holmes was seriously strung out. He was freebasing cocaine practically every hour of every day.
He was also by all accounts a reprehensible and vile human being. He was a compulsive, inveterate liar and all round s**t bag.
John Holmes’ star had fallen. Literally and figuratively.
His star being his 14 inch penis. It was actually 10 inches, but what’s a few inches between friends?
By the mid 1970’s John had risen to the top of the Los Angeles pornography industry.
It was the golden age of the illicit business. It had placed LA’s San Fernando Valley as the epicenter of the porn universe. It was being filmed in Valley warehouses. It was being filmed in Valley homes. Regular Valley families were renting out their houses to film crews for one or two day shoots.
There were actual movie theaters dedicated to showing the smut. It was biiiiiig business.
In 1970’s LA drugs were everywhere. Especially cocaine.
John Holmes career and the emergence of cocaine intersected at a pivotal moment in California history.
The Colombian cartels were saturating the city with high quality product. It was everywhere. It had a huge market in the legitimate film industry. It had another ready market in the illegitimate film industry.
American dealers were getting rich. To paraphrase smuggler George Jung speaking to his partner after selling several kilos of cocaine in one day; I think it’s fair to say you underestimated the market.
In the mid 70’s John Holmes started using cocaine. And didn’t stop. By the late 70’s he had easily graduated to smoking freebase.
In those days freebase cocaine had to be made using ammonia and ether. Extremely volatile. People would set themselves on fire trying to cook it.
On June 9, 1980. Early in the evening, out of his mind on freebase cocaine, the comedian accidentally set himself alight when his ether concoction exploded. Or covered himself in rum and set himself alight. Depending on which report is accurate.
In either event while sitting at home smoking freebase, he became a human fireball who ended up jumping out of his window and running down a San Fernando Valley street in flames. He had to be eventually restrained by two cops who waited for the ambulance to arrive. He almost died
it was not a drug to mess around with.
Yet John Holmes did. He smoked it all day every day.
He went everywhere with his briefcase, which contained cocaine, pipe, ether. It never left his side.
He disappeared off the set in Valley homes and locked himself in the bathroom for hours getting high. He disappeared within homes. Crew members found him with his pipe huddled down and hiding inside the wardrobes of a bedroom. He had been gone for hours.
The saying went; “the only way you could get John to work was to leave a trail of freebase from the bathroom to the bedroom.”
He became completely unreliable. He became a junkie thief.
He stole from the rented neighborhood homes the production happened to be filming in. He broke into cars on the street and stole whatever he could find. He stole luggage from the carousels of LA International Airport.
Freebase in those days was the Daddy to it’s bastard son of today – Crack.
And John certainly loved Daddy.
All Night Long Until The Break Of Dawn
Before becoming a porn ‘actor’ John Holmes was married. To a registered nurse named Sharon.
He drifted around a few jobs. He knew some carpentry.
One day Sharon came home from work to find John measuring his penis.
After which he walked into the bedroom and informed her he was going into the porn business.
She was disgusted, rightfully so.
John’s reasoning: It would be like being a carpenter. This was his tool for the job. When the job was over he would leave his tool at work.
What a guy.
In the mid 70’s Sharon started managing an apartment court. Owned by the pediatrician she worked for. Her and John lived rent free. The building had other vacant units. John worked around the complex as a handyman and gardener. A sideline to his burgeoning porn career.
Around 1976 a small family arrived at the complex.
A father and his two daughters. They had driven from Miami to LA. Along the way the father had picked up a hitchhiker in Colorado. The hitchhiker said he was going to Glendale, LA. The father had no particular LA destination in mind in which to live. The father decided Glendale would be as good as any.
The father and his two daughters arrived in Glendale and selected the apartment complex managed by Sharon. The father’s eldest daughter was named Dawn. She was 14 years old.
The fate of her father’s location meant John Holmes entered her life.
She first met John when she was visiting a neighbor’s apartment. John stopped by to deliver a bag of weed.
Prior to leaving John looked Dawn up and down, “ Too bad you’re so young “ he said stepping out of the door.
The ‘courtship’ began.
‘Grooming’ may be more appropriate.
John hired Dawn and her younger sister to help with gardening work around the complex. John made them sandwiches. John, Dawn, her younger sister and boyfriend went on camping trips. They went to the beach.
Dawn said she was taken off her feet. John treated her very special.
Dawn was 15 years old. John Holmes was 31.
Dawn’s father and sister ended up going back to Miami. Dawn moved into a unit occupied by John’s half brother and his wife. She dropped out of High school. She baby sat their kids.
John came by to freebase cocaine. As you do. His daily habit. John smoked it up until it was all gone.
When it was all gone John would scrape his pipe for any of the left over resin.
Dawn started freebasing cocaine with John. After a nice binge, John would have her bake him choc chip cookies to help him come down.
John was one swell guy.
Sharon befriended Dawn and took her under her wing. The poor girl was emaciated from drug use.
Sharon moved Dawn into their guest room. She wanted to protect her from John. They were still married. She knew exactly what he was by now. He started disappearing more and more.
Around this time he became a Police informant. On porn and prostitution matters. How useful his information was to law enforcement is up for debate. John only cared about himself.
John came back around the complex. John was erratic and twitchy from excessive drug use.
He was burglarizing, stealing and drugging. He charged $30 000 worth of electrical appliances to Sharon’s credit card then fenced them off for cocaine.
John, his half brother and Dawn somehow started a locksmith business. Not for long. The business closed. John was aggravated, strung out and paranoid. Of course it was Dawn’s fault.
John administered her first beating. They became regular occurrences after that.
Sharon kicked John out. She cared for Dawn. Dawn was firmly caught up in the destructive vortex of John Holmes.
They stayed in cheap, pay by the week motels at times. Mostly they lived in Sharon’s car.
John would drive around LA stealing and scoring. He would stop somewhere and get out. Never coming back right away.
Sometimes up to two days would go by. Dawn waited. She stayed in the car with a six pack of Pepsi and a large empty coffee can as her toilet. She had her chihuahua dog with her. A gift from Sharon and John.
You can’t accuse John of not providing for his loves ones.
1981 began. John Holmes, caring boyfriend that he was, set Dawn up in an apartment in the Valley with a porn actress acquaintance of his. John ordered Dawn into the prostitute business. Dawn refused. He beat her into acceptance. Dawn started turning tricks to help pay for Johns drug habit. John was in the running for boyfriend of the year.
John was inevitably arrested. He was stealing with both hands every day.
He was bailed out of jail by his friend. A well known name in LA criminal circles, A Palestinian named Eddie Nash.
Alice Down The Hole
Rumour has it Eddie Nash, real name Adel Gharib Nasrallah arrived in LA from the old country with $7 in his pockets.
He was hard working and ambitious, he opened a hot dog stand on Hollywood Boulevard and went to work. Doing almost everything himself. As the years passed he acquired liquor licenses and nightclubs.
By the early 1970’s he owned and operated many discos and nightclubs around LA. The clubs catered to different sectors of society, depending on the target audience. He changed his name to the more American, Eddie Nash.
He was a mysterious guy who developed a dangerous reputation over the decade. He became a gangster type. People knew not to F with Eddie Nash.
Police raided his clubs and seized quantities of drugs. Whether Eddie Nash was directly responsible for club drug dealing in those days is unknown. What was known was people respected and feared Eddie Nash. He had Israeli Mafia connections, drug dealers and extortionists who were active in California in the 1970’s/80’s.
He had acquired a fortune as well as a pretty gigantic drug habit himself.
In the late 70’s he rarely left his house in the San Fernando Valley. He consumed drugs daily, freebase cocaine being his favourite. He walked around in a bathrobe and underwear briefs, (inspiration for the Boogie Nights Rahad Jackson character)
He had friends, acquaintances, hangers on. Women and girls seemingly in and out of the house all day every day. He had a never ending supply of pharmaceuticals to keep everyone blitzed and happy. He took constant hits off his pipe using his butane torch.
You met Eddie at his house, in his environment. Cocaine paranoia sealed the deal. He often stayed in his bedroom. Guests lounging around his sunken living room were privileged if they were invited into his master domain.
Eddie was a massive fan of porn and had invested in San Fernando ventures. He leased office space to production companies. At some point he met John Holmes. Eddie liked John. He considered him a celebrity of sorts. he would say to people, “I would like you to meet Mr John Holmes”
Both being ardent fans of freebase I can’t imagine what they had in common with another.
By July 1981 John Holmes was drowning in self inflicted drug debt.
He owed thousands to Eddie Nash and thousands more to a bunch of junkie robbers known as the Wonderland gang.
They lived on Wonderland Avenue in the Laurel Canyon section of the Hollywood Hills.
It’s Wonderful at Wonderland
8763 Wonderland Avenue in the 1980’s
In the early 80’s, the house at 8763 Wonderland Avenue was a two storey split level on a woody, tree lined street in Laurel Canyon. It had wrought iron wrap around balconies on both floors facing the street. It sat near the top of a long canyon road above Hollywood.
A garage directly underneath the first floor and a set of side steps going up toward the front door. In 1981 visitors to the house had to use an intercom system to gain entry due to the heavily fortified caged side gate.
Wonderland Avenue ran up a meandering side street into a canyon off the main drag, Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
Many of the canyon side streets are self contained. A well to do neighbourhood in the Hollywood Hills between LA and the San Fernando Valley.
Traditionally the neighbourhood had attracted participants of the arts.
In the 1960’s Laurel Canyon attracted musicians, artists, writers, actors, film industry execs. Some came from far and wide. At once stage in the 1960’s the area was a who’s who of musical talent
When I first came out to L.A. [in 1968], my friend [photographer] Joel Bernstein found an old book in a flea market that said: Ask anyone in America where the craziest people live and they’ll tell you California. Ask anyone in California where the craziest people live and they’ll say Los Angeles. Ask anyone in Los Angeles where the craziest people live and they’ll tell you Hollywood. Ask anyone in Hollywood where the craziest people live and they’ll say Laurel Canyon. And ask anyone in Laurel Canyon where the craziest people live and they’ll say Lookout Mountain. So I bought a house on Lookout Mountain. — Joni Mitchell
Eagles member Glenn Frey had come to LA from Detroit..
“ In Laurel Canyon there’s houses built up on stilts on the hillside and there’s palm trees and yuccas and eucalyptus and vegetation I’d never seen before in my life. It was a little magical hillside canyon.”
With all of that creative talent on hand Laurel Canyon also developed another reputation, drug usage and plenty of it.
The memoir, Wonderland Avenue by Danny Sugarman, the one time manager for the Doors summed up 70’s excess perfectly.
Living in a nice house in the Hollywood Hills, using heroin, driving down canyon roads listening to Bruce Springsteens’ Born To Run, heading for the latest night spot on Sunset Boulevard.
It was LA, The Hollywood Hills man. Who wasn’t doing dope.
8763 Wonderland Avenue was heavily secured due to the activities of it’s occupants.
It was a 24 hour drug house.
The outside in a state of disrepair. It needed a paint job and wasn’t up to the standards of the surrounding properties.
The main occupants, two men and a woman were using and dealing drugs seemingly all day and all night. Neighboring houses were close by. Some very close. They weren’t discreet.
Neighbours spoke of loud rock music going on at all times of the day. Multiple visitors all the time. Bags of dope being thrown down to the street from the balconies. Women sometimes being thrown off the balconies to catchers on the street.
By Summer 1981 John Holmes was a regular visitor at the house. He had hooked up with them somehow and was running errands, doing delivery drop offs. Getting high.
He was into them for a small fortune. He was getting desperate.
Just Do It
When John left jail in 1981 he and Dawn headed for the latest flea bag motel on the cockroach tour of many.
As soon as they arrived John told Dawn to get some sleep, she was working tonight. Dawn protested the continued prostitution and refused. John punched her in the stomach and went to take a bath.
Dawn had to get away from John. When she was sure he was in the bath, she grabbed her chihuahua and opened the door. John called out for a drink. Dawn paused. Then thought, Oregon. Just do it.
She left the motel with dog in tow and nothing else. A Denny’s restaurant was the nearest place. An elderly man gave her a coin to make the phone call to her mother in Oregon. Her father and sister were in Miami. Her mother agreed to send Dawn the Oregon bus fare. Tomorrow. She burst into tears. The elderly man kindly said Dawn could spend the night in his room at the nursing home nearby.
Pops also added as long as he could feel her ass while she slept at the side of his bed.
Dawn confirmed, “just my ass?” Then agreed.
It seems depravity knew no bounds and even extended to the pensioner residents of Tinseltown.
The following morning the residents of the nursing home were surprised to see her there but made her some toast.
Dawn contacted the bus depot. She told them John Holmes the porn star wanted to kill her. Everyone seemed to know who he was or had at least heard of him. The ticketing agent agreed to come and collect her.
Soon after arriving at the depot John rocked up. Dawn managed to get onto her bus.
John ended up followed the wrong bus all the way up to San Francisco.
Months went by. Dawn happily found a job in Oregon away from John Holmes.
The phone calls started coming to her mothers house. Dawn refused to take his calls.
He was persistent.
One day she eventually took the call. He continued to call. He whispered sweet nothings. He promised her things would be different. He spoke of them and her dog. He mailed pictures of them together with her dog.
Dawn relented and flew back down to LA. Spider caught his fly.
John collected her from the airport carrying luggage that didn’t belong to him. Here we go again.
They settled into a motel. John was fine, no drugs that Dawn saw.
Then he disappeared for the next day.
June 28 1981
John went to the Wonderland house on the evening of June 28. The occupants wanted their money. John couldn’t pay. John had previously been beaten by one of the guys.
The occupants of the Wonderland house were all heroin addicts, dealers, thieves and armed robbers. They took down any opportunistic score that seemed right. A fourth man had joined them. He had come down from Sacramento to ply his criminal trade.
The house occupants were all jittery and desperate. They were almost out of drugs and out of money, they needed a score. Quickly.
John Holmes was equally desperate. But John had a plan.
Less than two miles away lived someone who had tons of drugs and cash lying around. He had a floor safe in his bedroom.
Who knew how much that contained.
John convinced them, it probably didn’t take much.
John explained Eddie was a friend, they had known each other for years. He called John his ‘brother’
John scribbled up a sketch plan of Nash’s house. Here’s his bedroom, here’s the safe.
John would go over there tonight to score. Nash wouldn’t think that this was unusual. He was used to people turning up at anytime. It was the normal state of affairs.
John explained that before he left, he would leave open the sliding glass door in the rear guest room. They could enter the house there.
Look guys here it is on the sketch.
The plan was for John to get back to Wonderland and give the thumbs up. Then the gang would hit Nash’s place. At one point one of them asked John, “you sure this is going to work donkey dick?”
They managed to piece $400 together and sent John on his way. John left at midnight and arrived at Eddie Nash’s house a few minutes later. It was ridiculously close for what they were planning.
Eddie Nash lived in a single storey house off Laurel Canyon Boulevard at the end of a cul de sac. A short cul de sac. His house was only about 100 metres away as you turned in.
John didn’t return to Wonderland right away as he was supposed to. Instead he smoked the $400 in freebase cocaine with Eddie Nash. Then some more. He stayed six hours. Eddie was a hospitable guy.
June 28 merged into June 29.
John started coming down. That’s the problem with rock cocaine. It only lasts a minute or so, sometimes 30 seconds of extreme high. Then it’s gone and the insatiable need becomes more, always more. Never achieving the high of the virgin hit. Cruel trick. The devil appearing through smoke.
Doubt crept in. John started to realise the magnitude of his decision. He mumbled something to Eddie Nash about the Wonderland gang. Realised alarmingly what he had done and shut up. Eddie had been up for ten days straight. Would it have even registered?
Eddie was a sex and dope fiend. Now mostly dope. Years later one of his many lawyers would reveal Nash had spent around $1 million per year for six or seven years on drugs.
Still John was concerned. Eddie knew of the Wonderland guys. He had spoken of them in the past.
John needed to stay high which meant money. Money he didn’t have. He walked through the rear of the house and unlocked the guest room sliding door.
When John got back to Wonderland everyone was sprawled out on heroin. Only one of them was semi alert. The dude who had come down from Sacramento.
John went straight back to Eddie Nash’s house. Full sunny California daylight now. In his absence he was paranoid the sliding door may have been locked.
Eddie Nash house early 90’s
The gang eventually got it together and left Wonderland around 08:30. They drove in Monday morning rush hour traffic to commit home invasion armed robbery less than 2 miles away.
They turned into Nash’s cul de sac and met John there. He was driving toward them. Both cars stopped alongside each other yards away from Nash’s house. John gave the all clear. “Let’s get em boys” or something equally ridiculous.
The wheel man dumped the car in the cul de sac close to Nash’s house and stayed in it. Three Wonderland guys entered the drive and looped around to the rear of Nash’s house. They entered through the guest room sliding door. One of them made a hell of a noise along the hallway announcing themselves as ‘Police’ with a stolen badge.
They entered the sunken living room and saw Nash standing there sporting blue underwear briefs with his 300 pound bodyguard. One of the guys went for his handcuffs to cuff the bodyguard. He struggled getting them around his fat wrists. He was joined by his buddy and somehow one of their guns went off. The muzzle flash burned the bodyguards back. They dumped a Persian rug over the bodyguard.
Nash was marched through to his bedroom at gunpoint. The safe was where John Holmes had described. Nash refused to give up the combination. A gun was stuffed into his mouth. Nash changed his mind.
They grabbed big bags of cocaine, cash and jewellery from the open safe. They discovered hand guns underneath some beds. Nash had a sheet thrown over his head.
Back in the living room one of the Wonderland guys wanted to know where the heroin stash was. The bodyguard didn’t know. He started applying knife pressure to his throat.
Their getaway driver honked the car horn outside. They had to split. Now.
Later that morning the robbers walked back into the house on Wonderland. John jumped up alert. Well, how did it go? They ignored him. Two guys went straight into a bedroom to divide up their booty. They had decided to give John and the driver as less as possible. One of them took out $100, 000 in cash and hid it away. The rest of the haul was taken out into the kitchen.
The gang set up around the breakfast nook and presented a final tally for John’s benefit – minus the $100,000 they had hidden away.
On display were 8 pounds of cocaine, 5000 quaaludes, a kilo of China white heroin and $10,000 in cash.
The drugs were weighted on scales.
John went off into a bathroom to smoke cocaine. The rest of them started injecting heroin and cocaine. Hardly unusual for a Monday morning.
John rejoined them. He wasn’t pleased. His take was $ 3000. He protested his meagre portion. He was punched and told to get out.
Dawn had been kicked out of their motel. John hadn’t paid for the room. Dawn didn’t have any money. She couldn’t call Sharon as almost 2 years had passed.
She wandered the downtown LA streets. Some pimps tried to pick her up for their stable. It’s a wonderful life.
She hooked up with some people she met downtown and ended up at their pad.
John found Dawn through a message she had left on an answering service he sometimes used.
John turned up with a huge amount of cocaine and promptly started cooking it in the kitchen of the place. John smoked all through the night. A resident got involved and joined in.
John and Dawn got kicked out of course.
Johnny Be Bad
It was the 1st of July, a Wednesday afternoon, and Eddie Nash was beyond pissed. Somebody had dared rob him. He had been forced to beg for his life. He was humiliated. He smoked his freebase pipe furiously, over and over. His private stash. They hadn’t found that. He ranted and raved.
He sent his bodyguard out to bring John Holmes before him. John had been in his house the very morning just before the robbery.
It didn’t take too long.
The bodyguard found John walking along a Hollywood street. Wearing a stolen ring from the Nash jewelry haul.
John was brought back to the house. Nash exploded. “How could you do this to me”
“I trusted you” “I gave you everything you wanted”
It’s true, Christmas the year before, 1980, John turned up to Nash’s house with a gift. Dawn.
Nash presented a Christmas gift for John. A quarter of an ounce of Cocaine. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
The bodyguard smacked John around.
Nash grabbed John Holmes’ little black address book and searched for family members. “Who is this in Ohio? You from there huh? Who is this in Montana? I will kill your whole family!”
John gave it up. All of it.
Nash ordered John to go back to the Wonderland House. “Get my property. Go!”
John heard threats about body parts and heard; “do this and all would be forgiven”
Seat Belts Please Ladies And Gentlemen. Going Down.
Sharon looked out of the peep hole and saw John standing outside her front door near 4 am.
It had been several months.
John was covered in blood head to toe. Carrie at the high school prom.
John spoke of a car accident. Catatonic.
Sharon was a registered nurse. She tended to John in the bathroom. The blood covering John didn’t appear to be his.
She placed him in a bath. John dribbled out a semi confessed. He didn’t make too much sense.
Murders at the house. He was made to watch. Gun held against his head. He had led them there. He gained access to the side cage through the intercom system. He had no choice.
They deserved it.
John left Sharon’s and went to a Valley motel. Dawn was there. He spent the rest of July 2nd passed out. He kicked the bed covers during sleep, calling out, “ blood, blood” Over and over.
The motel TV played the news.
Four people beaten to death at 8763 Wonderland Avenue. By steel pipe.
The Police were calling it the Four on the floor murders. Blunt force trauma.
Two men and two women.
Dawn recognised the house. She had waited there before while John went inside to score drugs.
An evening news broadcast had more disturbing details. Work men next door had called Police that morning after hearing muffled cries for help. A fifth victim was still alive. Barely. One of the Wonderland guys wives.
Neighbours interviewed hadn’t called Police. They assumed the loud screams in the early morning hours were the dopers partying. It happened all the time.
Police video taped the crime scene. The first time video had been used on a crime scene.
The Homicide detectives in attendance were very disturbed. There was blood and brain splatter everywhere. Even the ceilings. It was a massacre.
The real tragedy was an innocent victim had been caught up in it.
The 22 year old girlfriend of the Sacramento ass-hole. Sleeping downstairs. She was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And where was he that night? At a motel in the Valley with a prostitute.
John Holmes had watched the evening news report and gone ghostly white. All colour had drained from his face. He looked scared.
8 days later the cops attended their motel. John was arrested and held in protective custody at a downtown hotel with Dawn and Sharon. A luxury hotel. Security around the clock. Room service. John was in his element. On show.
He told the detectives some things. He shadow boxed and manipulated. He wanted witness protection with a new name, house, and money. He wanted new names for Dawn and Sharon. He teased them a la his porn career. He offered up tit bits concerning known LA drug dealers, pimps, low lifes. The detectives were only concerned with:
Who killed the Wonderland Gang? John clammed up. He couldn’t possibly testify. The detectives had to cut him loose. They didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with anything. They were banking on him being their star witness.
John took off with Dawn. He tried to convince Sharon to join them. She said no thanks. She had become like a motherly figure to Dawn and felt bad for her.
They drove across country. A stop off in Vegas for John to gamble at a casino. He got spooked when he thought he recognized someone from Eddie’s Nash’ circle. They hit the road again. The Grand Canyon in Arizona. John took them to Montana to visit some family. John stole from cars along the route.
The road trip reached it’s end destination in Miami beach. Another flop motel on Collins Avenue. Dawn found work at the motel, John started doing some painting work at another nearby hotel. John started his usual s**t with Dawn making her prostitute herself on the beach. After a while Dawn refused to do it. John followed her out to the motel pool and started laying into her in full view of everyone.
The following day some motel residents spoke to Dawn. One residents daughter was moving into a house and offered her a live in babysitter job. Dawn was out of there. the only odd thing was her younger brother was in town from Oregon. He was 16 what was he doing down here?
They met up at a park in December of 1981. John had taken off two weeks ago. Dawn’s brother had brought the LA homicide cops with him. He convinced Dawn that both her and John were in danger unless she talked to the cops.
No choice/easy choice.
They picked John up in Miami and arrested him for all four murders. He was extradited back to LA.
Dawn stayed put to piece together the wreckage of her life that was John Holmes. Sayonara s**tbird.
Chickens Coming Home
John Holmes was put on trial for the Wonderland murders. The cops had found a palm print of his on a bedroom headboard above one of the victims. His defence lawyer painted him as another victim in all of this. Where were the actual perpetrators? He probably disputed the palm print evidence by saying John Holmes had been in the Wonderland house on many occasions. It didn’t mean he was there when the murders occurred. The jury was shown the grotesque images from video the Police took on the day. Holmes refused to testify and was found not guilty.
John had to stay in jail on another outstanding burglary matter. A grand jury was convened. He had been found not guilty at trial and was now legally required to tell everything he knew about the Wonderland case. He still refused, Eddie Nash was still out there.
A judge found him in contempt and sent him to the county jail. After almost a year in jail he changed his mind and decided to testify. What led to him testifying was certain “circumstances” had changed.
Eddie Nash had been convicted of drug dealing that very same day.
In the months after the Wonderland murders, the police raided Nash’ house three times. They found drugs, money, weapons on each occasion. Nash was eventually charged with 2 pounds of cocaine for distribution.
During his trial he smoked freebase in his car during the trial adjournments. He was found guilty and sentenced to 8 years in prison.
He served only 2. He managed to bribe the judge for $ 100,000.
In 1990 he was charged with planning the Wonderland murders in state court. He was found not guilty. He had bribed a young female juror for $50,000.
In 1995 the cops and federal agencies were still hot for Nash. A joint task force raided his home and found a nice quantity of methamphetamine. Jackpot.
The “meth” turned out to be a bunch of mothballs. Deflated whoopee cushion.
In 2000 after a four year operation Nash was arrested and charged for federal RICO violations. Drug trafficking, money laundering, conspiring to carry out the Wonderland murders and bribing the juror in his previous trial. He was near 70 years old and in poor health.
He struck a plea deal. The deal included his admission that he ordered his associates to retrieve stolen property from the Wonderland house. Which may have resulted in violence and possibly murder. He received a four and a half year prison sentence (including time served) and $250,000 fine.
It was the closest the cops ever came to pinning the Wonderland murders on Eddie Nash. 20 years after they happened.
Toward the end of writing this post I came across Dawn’s website
The first title under her name: SURVIVOR.
God bless her.
As for John Holmes the cops never got as close again. He was acquitted in his one and only trial.
If John Holmes took part in the Wonderland murders that night it was because someone held a gun to his head, handed him a steel pipe and said swing.
It was more likely Nash used him for the crucial role of getting the assailants inside the house past the intercom system. Then they pulled him along from room to room.
Holmes was too passive, a coward. He wouldn’t have given his full effort inside the house. He preferred abusing women.
After jail he went back to what he knew best. The porn industry as a cameo actor.
In 1986 he contracted AIDS and died in 1988 at the age of 43.
If John Holmes was the porn king once upon a time, his cock was his sword.
And you know what they say..
Live by the sword, die by the sword.