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  • July 1, 1981.

  • At around four in the afternoon, some furniture removers working at a house on Wonderland

  • Avenue in LA's Laurel Canyon neighborhood hear a woman groaning.

  • It's coming from the house next door, number 8763.

  • Peering through a window, what they see is nothing short of a bloodbath.

  • In a panic, one of them calls 911.

  • Soon, hardened detective Bob Souza is on the scene.

  • What he finds surprises even him.

  • People in the house have been beaten so violently they barely look recognizable.

  • He turns to his partner, detective Lange, and says, “This is overkill.

  • This has to be a revenge killing.”

  • What he was looking at was a crime scene that became known as the Wonderland Murders, a

  • slaughter that involved drug-addicted thugs, a legendary porn actor, a neo-Nazi, and a

  • drug kingpin at the center of it whose clients included Hollywood movie stars.

  • All of these people, and likely more folks, were enmeshed in one of the biggest American

  • crime mysteries of all time.

  • It's true that when Souza first witnessed the utter brutality of the murders he knew

  • this was a lot more than just some house invasion or a drug deal that had gone wrong.

  • He later said he'd never seen so much blood in his life, describing the crime scene as

  • even gorier than one of LA's other much-publicized crimes, the Tate-LaBianca murders, aka, the

  • Manson Family murders.

  • Souza and Lange surveyed the house once the groaning woman, Susan Launius, was taken to

  • the hospital.

  • Drugs and paraphernalia were everywhere, as were the murder weapons: steel pipes and hammers.

  • Susan was lucky to be alive, but the others hadn't stood a chance; their heads pretty

  • much crushed by the sustained attack.

  • Those victims were Ron Launius, Barbara Richardson, Billy DeVerell, and Joy Miller.

  • When Susan was discovered, she was lying on the floor next to her bed.

  • In the bed, still under the covers, was her husband, Ron, who was lying in a pool of blood

  • next to the hammer that had likely killed him.

  • The nightstand next to the bed had been ransacked.

  • Miller was lying on a bed in another room, her legs hanging off it.

  • DeVerell was propped up at the foot of that bed against a television stand.

  • His entire half-naked body was covered in blood from head to toe.

  • The entire room had been ransacked.

  • The TV was still on, playing channel 3.

  • Richardson was the only one discovered downstairs, next to the sofa that she'd been sleeping

  • on.

  • It seemed that a gang had entered the house when all the occupants were asleep.

  • They'd likely all been bludgeoned before they could put up any kind of a fight.

  • Now you need to know something about the victims, a bunch of people who certainly had a track

  • history of doing bad things themselves.

  • In the 1970s and 1980s, 8763 Wonderland Avenue was a notorious place.

  • Wild parties were often thrown there, fights erupted, people walked in and out of the house

  • looking like they'd been on ten-day drug and booze benders.

  • They looked like that because they had.

  • Miller was the actual owner of the house, and she lived there with her boyfriend, DeVerell.

  • The reason Sue and Ron Launius were there is they were part of the outfit, which was

  • the Wonderland gang.

  • These people made hay while cocaine covered the streets of LA like a bad snowstorm in

  • Maine.

  • From the house, they dealt huge amounts of the stuff, which of course meant a lot of

  • unseemly characters going around there from time to time.

  • One of those characters was the porn legend, John Holmes, a man noted for his incredibly

  • large phallus and the fact that after giving up his meatpacking job he slept with in the

  • region of 14,000 women.

  • The people often found in that house were sketchy, to say the least.

  • Ron Launius had been dishonorably discharged from the US army for smuggling heroin back

  • from Vietnam in the body bags of dead soldiers.

  • He was also later linked to the murder of a snitch but was never convicted of it.

  • He did spend time in prison, though, for smuggling heroin over the US-Mexican border.

  • According to the cops, he was ruthless and cold.

  • A detective once said about him, "You could put a gun to his head and his pulse would

  • never break 70.”

  • DeVerell was not so cool-headed.

  • He was a long-time heroin addict who wanted out of the game but wasn't able to due to

  • his addiction.

  • He was never two steps away from Launius.

  • Miller, too, was an addict, and that's the reason she fell in with the gang.

  • As for Barbara Richardson, it seems she was only guilty of being the girlfriend of another

  • member of the gang.

  • His name was David Lind, a heroin addict with a history of violence who was a member of

  • the Aryan Brotherhood.

  • He should have been there that night, but fortunately for him, he was at a motel in

  • the San Fernando Valley taking large amounts of drugs with a prostitute.

  • As for Susan, the survivor, while she was no angel, she was only at the house because

  • her husband was.

  • We'd like to tell you she later told the cops everything she saw that night, but her

  • skull was smashed so bad she lost part of it.

  • She suffered from amnesia after that and was never able to recall anything that happened

  • on the fateful night.

  • Ok, so why would anyone have committed such a brutal act against these people, some of

  • whom were not really hardened criminals?

  • As you know, this wasn't a cut-and-dried robbery, it was revenge, and someone wanted

  • to make a statement.

  • The murders happened on July 1, but it was what happened on June 29 which explains or

  • might explain the bloodbath a couple of days later.

  • That was because the Wonderland gang had brazenly robbed a very well-known figure in the underworld.

  • His name was John Nash, a person who'd arrived in the USA after spending time in a Palestinian

  • refugee camp.

  • He'd had it tough growing up, never forgetting seeing his brother-in-law shot down by Israel

  • Defense Forces soldiers.

  • When he landed on US shores he had all of seven bucks to his name, but he soon put a

  • lot more money in his pocket.

  • Let's just say his hard-knock life made him not only someone not to be messed with,

  • but it was also the motivation behind him making stacks of cash in the land of milk

  • of honey.

  • After some years living in the US, he was the owner of nightclubs, strip clubs, and

  • restaurants in LA.

  • It was at one of his nightclubs that he met John Holmes.

  • They were actually quite close.

  • Nash loved introducing his friends to the man with the celebrity penis.

  • Holmes wasn't exactly a household name, but in the bars and clubs, he was something

  • of a star.

  • He was also an avid consumer of cocaine and crack cocaine, which pretty much resulted

  • in his once-gifted member not being able to rise to the occasion.

  • That was about the time he told the gang about his nightclub owner buddy that kept a lot

  • of money and drugs in his house.

  • On June 29, Ron Launius, DeVerell, and Lind, paid Nash a visit.

  • They had a driver that we haven't mentioned yet in Tracy McCourt.

  • He didn't enter the house, but waited outside in the stolen getaway car, a Ford Granada.

  • The plan was simple enough.

  • Holmes had been at Nash's house on three occasions earlier in the day, partying a little

  • and asking to buy some cocaine.

  • When he left the place for the last time, he opened the latch on the patio door, believing

  • that Nash wouldn't know it was unlocked.

  • Through Holmes, the gang knew that Nash kept a lot of cash in the house, as well as large

  • amounts of heroin and cocaine.

  • Holmes also informed them that he had a stash of guns.

  • What they might not have been fully aware of was the wickedness of the man they were

  • going to rob.

  • The robbery for the most part went smoothly, even though Nash's bodyguard was grazed

  • with a bullet from a gun that had been accidentally fired.

  • After seeing that, Nash got down on the floor and pleaded for his life, something that quietly

  • enraged him.

  • Still, he opened up the safe.

  • The gang, high on life as well as drugs, laughed out loud when they drove away with $1.2 million

  • (about $3.4 million in today's cash) worth of drugs, mostly cocaine and heroin.

  • The haul also included cash, guns, and jewelry.

  • They were rich, for the time being at least.

  • As for what happened the day after, stories differ.

  • Some accounts say Holmes was seen by some of Nash's men wearing some of the stolen

  • jewelry, and he was subsequently dragged back to Nash's house.

  • Other accounts state Holmes went there on purpose just to take the heat off of him.

  • In his book, My Life with Liberace, drug addict and former lover of Liberace, Scott Thorson,

  • said he was at Nash's house buying drugs when he saw Holmes being beaten by Nash's

  • bodyguard.

  • He also claims to have heard Nash explain to Holmes that if he didn't tell him who'd

  • committed the robbery he was going to have someone in his family murdered.

  • This scenario looks very likely when you hear what detectives Souza and Lange found at Nash's

  • house a few days later.

  • That was around one million bucks' worth of cocaine.

  • And guess what, the cops didn't find any cocaine, or at least a substantial amount,

  • at the Wonderland house.

  • At Nash's house were also things that looked like they had been taken from the house on

  • Wonderland.

  • It looks as though this crime should have been solved there and then, but it just wasn't

  • that simple.

  • The cops certainly thought Holmes had been one of the men who did the Wonderland hit.

  • His fingerprints were found on one of the bed headboards right above where a bloodied

  • Launius was found lying.

  • Still, when he went to court on a charge of four murders the verdict came back not guilty.

  • Holmes was seen as one of the victims in all of this, being forced by the gang to do what

  • they had told him.

  • On March 13, 1988, police visited Holmes as he was dying from complications due to AIDS.

  • They asked him again, what happened that night.

  • Holmes was so sick all he could get out were mumbled, incoherent words.

  • He died soon after that visit.

  • Later in 1988, the Los Angeles Times dropped a bombshell.

  • The paper wrote that soon after the murders, Holmes sat in a bathtub crying.

  • He turned to his wife, Sharon, and said, “There's somebody out there who wants to kill me.”

  • She asked why, to which he replied, “The murders…I was involved…I know who did

  • it.”

  • “I had to stand there and watch what they did,” he told Sharon, saying what he saw

  • he could never forget.

  • It was similar to what the cops thought but couldn't prove, although their theory had

  • Holmes joining in the murders.

  • Police were still working on the case at that point.

  • They were sure they knew what had happened but as yet just couldn't prove it.

  • Detective Lange told the Times, “There is no mystery, because we know who is involved

  • and we know why.”

  • As for Nash, he was never charged with the murders although he did spend about two years

  • in prison for cocaine possession.

  • In 1990, a jury decided 11-1 that Nash was behind the murders, but since that was a hung

  • verdict, he was acquitted.

  • Many years later, he admitted he'd bribed the lone juror who voted in his favor with

  • $50,000.

  • He was convicted of money laundering and admitted to jury tampering, but in the end, he didn't

  • go back to prison and just paid a $250,000 fine.

  • He died in 2014, aged 85.

  • But surely if he had sent those men around to that house, the authorities would have

  • convicted him.

  • There's also the fact that no way could Holmes and the bodyguard have done it alone,

  • if they had done it.

  • Holme's wife Sharon told police that Holmes had indeed helped plan the robbery but under

  • some amount of duress from the gang.

  • She said after the murder he was held at Nash's house while Nash scanned his address book.

  • Nash then listed some of the people in that book who would be assassinated if Holmes didn't

  • tell the truth about the robbery.

  • Holmes was known as being a liar throughout his life.

  • That's why people didn't believe the story that Sharon came out with.

  • An attorney would comment, “Based on the material given to us by John Holmes that version

  • of the facts is not an accurate one.”

  • Then there is Thorson's story.

  • He's been in and out of prison himself after the murders, and for the most part, he didn't

  • talk much about the Wonderland Murders.

  • Maybe he did know too much, because after testifying in the case he was put into witness

  • protection.

  • That didn't prevent him from getting shot five times in 1990.

  • While he's still in prison right now, he talked more after Nash died.

  • In 2021, he was interviewed in prison by the Daily Beast.

  • He said, “It was a very sensitive subject, but now that Eddie Nash is dead, I really

  • don't care.”

  • He called Nash thedrug lord of Los Angeles”, alluding that he wasn't the kind of person

  • you could just steal from.

  • Thorson said yet again that he saw the bodyguard hitting Holmes and demanding to know who had

  • committed the robbery.

  • He also said this, “I was there when they brought him back...There were certain things

  • that the police department never told the public at the time, like that the victims

  • were beaten so hard that there were indentations of the pipe on their foreheads.”

  • According to Thorson, Nash was renowned in Hollywood for having the most superior cocaine

  • and heroin.

  • He said it was he who helped hook Nash up to drug-taking celebrities such as John Belushi

  • and Richard Pryor.

  • We had the best coke in town and we were supplying it to Hollywood.

  • So, that's what was going on,” said Thorson.

  • If you believe him, on the night of the murders, Holmes and the others had expected all the

  • gang to be there, and killing the largely innocent women hadn't been planned.

  • The question is, can you believe his story?

  • Well, he might be the last survivor who can tell such a story because there aren't really

  • any more people who can talk about those bad old days.

  • Remember David Lind, the neo-Nazi who was at a motel the night it happened?

  • Well, he died in 1995 from a heroin overdose.

  • The bodyguard died in 1997 from liver failure.

  • Tracy McCourt, the driver, passed away in 2006, although no cause of death was reported.

  • There were almost certainly other assailants that night, so no doubt someone out there

  • knows the truth.

  • It's a wonder the crime has never been officially solved, although a journalist working on the

  • case explained the main reason for that, saying, “When a crime is committed in hell, you're

  • not going to find angels for witnesses.”

  • He still believes there are witnesses out there right now who can fill in most of the

  • gaps to this grizzly tale.

  • Now you need to watch another confounding murder mystery, “Brutal True Story of What

  • They Didn't Tell You About the Burger Chef Massacre.”Or, have a look at, “Degrees

  • of Murder - What Do They Mean?”

July 1, 1981.