A series of senseless, drug-fueled events transpired between June and July of 1981, which included conspiracy, robbery and murder. The events lasted over a two-day period and eventually led to the deaths of four people. One survivor was left out of the five disfigured souls who were found in the home on Wonderland Avenue, yet even she was beaten unrecognizable. The crime shocked Hollywood and quickly became dubbed The Four on the Floor Murders, also known as The Wonderland Murders.
You may recall hearing about the adult-film king, John Holmes and The Wonderland Murders. You might even think that you know most of the details, but it’s rare that everything gets put together in a way that makes the real story understandable. But in reality, there really isn’t much mystery left about the crime. The shocking details have been told by various individuals over the past 35 years. All of their accounts have been pieced together by detectives, writers and producers. Movies, like Wonderland (2003), and related books are mostly based on Holmes and his involvement with the murders, since he was the common point of interest.
The biggest problem with the murders is that nobody involved has ever been held responsible for the crimes, although authorities knew the majority of the details shortly after the murders first took place. In fact, some of the people that had firsthand knowledge of what happened, carried the truth with them to their graves.
The Wonderland Murders still pop up in discussions today. Many people still do not know all of the shocking details. Perhaps what is most shocking is the string of events that led to the Four on the Floor Murders…
15. The Wonderland Gang
The shocking thing about the Wonderland Gang was that the group actually conspired and carried out a robbery at the home of known kingpin Eddie Nash, just a couple of days before The Four on the Floor Murders. Ronnie “Ron” Launius (the leader), Tracy McCourt, William “Billy” Deverell, and his girlfriend Joy Miller (who was the leaseholder of the town home) were the original four members of the gang.
The Wonderland Gang was well-known in Los Angles for trafficking drugs, mostly cocaine throughout the 70s and into the early 80s. All of the members were also addicts and had lengthy arrest records. The gang had also added robberies to their long list of crimes in order to fuel their need for more money and drugs. David Lind knew Ron Launius from prison and had joined up with the gang to help with the robberies and burglaries.
Joy Miller and Billy Deverell were the only two members who lived at the residence on Wonderland Avenue. The other gang members were frequent house guests, as well as John Holmes (shown here played by Val Kilmer in Wonderland.)
14. Adel “Eddie Nash” Nasrallah
Adel Nasrallah, who is best known as Eddie Nash, immigrated to the U.S. from Palestine in 1950. He started off by running a hotdog stand and ended up running several nightclubs and restaurants in Los Angles making him one of the wealthiest and most powerful drug kingpins of Hollywood. Eddie Nash was also a habitual drug user. He wasn’t the kind of person that you would want to mess with.
Eddie often called Holmes his brother around guests and loved showing off his friendship with the well-known adult film star. Eddie Nash was also known for his hospitality and would usually give friends anything, but Holmes had worn out his welcome.
This however, did not mean that Eddie was willing to let someone set him up as Holmes did. It was really shocking that a gang of people actually thought they were slick enough to not only rob Nash, but humiliate him in his home as well.
13. John “Johnny Wadd” Holmes
John Holmes was actually born John Cutis Estes in 1944. His dad was never around so his mother changed his last name to Holmes when he was a child. He joined the army at 16 and married Sharon Gebenini when he returned in 1964. The couple had a simple life with ordinary jobs. That is, until Holmes’ pen*s was discovered in the bathroom by an underground adult magazine photographer. This eventually led to his shocking connections between the Wonderland Gang and Eddie Nash.
John Holmes’ career had really taken off in the adult film industry by 1971 with his role as Detective Johnny Wadd. Sharon stayed with him out of love, but was no longer interested in having a intimate relationship with Holmes. In 1976 he met 15-year-old Dawn Schiller, who became his girlfriend.
Holmes was already edging toward his drug habit by then. His connections to Eddie Nash and the Wonderland Gang followed shortly after.
The connections and string of events that led to the Four on the Floor Murders is probably what is most shocking aside from the actual crime scene. John Holmes was at the center of both plots. Holmes most likely wouldn’t have known the Wonderland gang or Eddie Nash had his 13 inch pen*s never been discovered. However, since his package was discovered he went heavy into the drug scene.
Holmes needed money to support his habits once his career began to fail and he became a delivery boy alternating between both Wonderland and Nash. He also had forced his girlfriend into working the streets to get him money. He was indebted to Eddie Nash, who had bailed him out following an arrest. He was also in deep debt with the Wonderland Gang.
Holmes’ plan to get back in good with the gang and get his hands on some easy cash was to set up Eddie Nash (Shown here in Wonderland).
11. A Half-Baked Plan
The Wonderland Gang thought Holmes had a plan. Why they would believe that robbing the biggest Hollywood kingpin of that era is shocking. David Lind later testified that he was never told who they were robbing, although he was there when the plan was originally discussed by the seven people allegedly involved. The group included John Holmes, Ron Launius, David Lind, Tracy McCourt, Billy Deverell, Joy Miller and Lind’s girlfriend Barbara Richardson.
Holmes drew a floor plan of the Nash house and was given $400 to spend with Eddie while setting up a way for the gang to enter the residence. He was gone for hours and had spent all of the money up on drugs, but had left the sliding glass door ajar for the gang. When Holmes finally returned to the Wonderland town home everyone was too loaded to go.
This again shows just how much of the insane plan was fueled by the group’s habit. The group made two false runs before they actually followed through with the robbery (Shown here in Wonderland).
10. The Gullible Kingpin
Ok, so lets just say Holmes was really close to Nash, which is how the story goes. John Holmes was also in over his head with debt owed to Nash. It was obvious that Holmes was strung out pretty bad to everybody that knew him. Holmes had even acted as a go between by selling Nash some of the weapons stolen by the Wonderland Gang.
Nash was also described as being very paranoid around this time as he had been on a 10-day bender himself. Holmes claimed that he even had second thoughts while he was spending the $400 with Nash and mentioned the gang, but that Nash was so out of it that he didn’t understand anything. It would seem as though Nash’s paranoia would have picked up on the gang being mentioned and the fact that Holmes came by 2 to 3 times in the same day. Another mystery is that the unlocked door was never checked by Diles or Nash.
It’s shocking that Eddie Nash was really that gullible, or was he?
9. The Robbery
Launius, Lind, Deverell and McCourt, headed to the Nash residence before Holmes made it back from his last trip to check the unlocked door. Holmes did not stick around for the robbery itself, but as the gang’s car passed he rolled down his window and said “It’s time! Get ’em, boys!” and smiled as he raised his fist, according to Mike Sager, who did an article for Rolling Stone in 1989.
Once the group gained entry they acted as if they were the police, and ran into Gregory Diles, who was Nash’s 300 lb bodyguard as he was bringing a tray to Nash in his room. Caught off-guard the gang was able to handcuff Diles, but a gun went off in the process. The bullet grazed Diles’ back and Eddie Nash, who was in fear of his life, asked to pray for his children.
Nash’s wish was not granted, but he wasn’t killed despite being robbed, scared and humiliated. The gang made it out with a shocking take of over $300,000 between the stolen cash, drugs, jewelry and weapons.
8. World’s Dumbest Criminals
No offense meant to the people who lost their lives back then, but they should have expected some retaliation. They knew that Nash wasn’t likely to call the cops and report his stash of cash, drugs and guns missing, but why would they stay at the town home on Wonderland Avenue? It was less than 2 miles from the Nash residence, plus Holmes (who they ripped off on the take) knew exactly where it was. Only two of the people involved with the robbery were clever enough to leave the town home behind.
Tracy McCourt was one of the smart ones, although he was also shorted on the take. That didn’t stop him from leaving as soon as he got his cut. Holmes left after an argument about his cut. Lind got lucky on the night of the murders and ended up at a hotel with a male prost*tute named Shilo Watts, who he stayed with on the night of the murders. McCourt later testified that the entire group was supposed to move after the robberies and that he didn’t understand why the others stayed.
7. A Forced Participant
Holmes may have been smart enough to leave Wonderland Avenue, but what he did afterwards was really shocking and rather dumb. Not only did he stick around town, but he was also picked up by Diles, while wearing a ring stolen from Nash in the robbery. Holmes was beaten once they got him in front of Nash. The beating was witnessed by Scott Thorson, who later testified about the Holmes beating in order to connect Nash to the Four on the Floor Murders.
Nash also took Holmes’ address book and threatened the lives of his family and friends in the event that Holmes refused to lead his men to the Wonderland Gang. Holmes was allegedly forced to participate and/or watch the murders.
Investigators found John Holmes’ bloody handprint on the headboard above Ron Launius’ body after the murders.
6. The Four on the Floor Murders
The shocking murders were said to have been carried out as retaliation for the robbery, but only 3 of the conspirators were killed. Holmes rang the buzzer and was allowed entry along with Diles and at least one more of Nash’s thugs. Everyone in the town home had been beaten unrecognizable just before dawn on July 1, 1981.
The other two victims were only considered to be guests at the town home on Wonderland Avenue. Susan Launius, who was Ron Launius estranged wife had come to visit him and Barbara Richardson who got left behind by Lind when he went to the hotel. The police who arrived at the crime scene described it as being, “bloodier and more gruesome than the Tate/LaBianca” murders carried out by the Manson Family.
Susan Launius was the only surviving victim, while her husband Ron Launius, Billy Deverell, Joy Miller and Barbara Richards, were all found dead at the scene.
5. Neighbors Ignored Screams
Neighbors claimed to hear noises, but this was normal for that particular address on Wonderland Avenue. The Wonderland Gang was well-known for their eccentric partying. Rock music was always playing loudly around the clock.
One neighbor recalled hearing screams around 4am, but turned up the volume on the TV to drown out the sounds. Another neighbor awoke hearing a male voice screaming “Please don’t kill me!” and went back to sleep.
The autopsy reports claimed that a mover heard sounds, went to investigate, saw the door ajar, and left. In the afternoon more movers came to the neighbor’s house and three people leaving the scene mentioned bodies. It was finally noticed that something might be wrong and the police were called around 4pm. This was a shocking 12 hours from the time the initial cries for help were heard.
It turned out that the moans were coming from a badly battered and bludgeoned Susan Launius, who was barely clinging onto her life.
4. The Crime Scene
Upon entering the home at Wonderland Avenue, the veteran officers of the LAPD were so shocked that they began calling them The Four on the Floor Murders. The crime wasn’t called the Wonderland Murders until after the media got ahold of the news. The officers were quick to compare the scene with the Tate/LA Bianca from a few years back. They began videotaping as they walked through the town home doing their investigation.
The town home was ransacked. Many of the beds and floors were covered with books, papers, drawers, clothes and even tools. The lights and televisions were left on giving the scene an eerie look. There was drug paraphernalia all through the house on nightstands and tables. There was blood splatter soaked into the beds, carpet and walls. All of the bodies were left either in the beds or on the floors where they died.
The video footage was later used in court and can now be seen on YouTube, but it is very graphic.
3. The Victims
The video shows Barbara Richardson first, who’s head was covered and soaking in a puddle of blood. Barbara was still wrapped in a blanket on the floor just beside the couch. It appears as if she had just rolled off the couch during the attack.
Ron Launius, who was still on the bed covered up was also covered in blood and unrecognizable. Susan Launius was removed and rushed to the hospital before the video footage began, but the video shows the bloodstained wall where she was found in the room with Ron.
Billy Deverell and Joy Miller were found in another room. Joy was on the bed, but the room was ransacked so badly that her body was covered with the debris. Billy was against the wall also soaked in his own blood.
The cause of death was blunt force trauma. The victim’s faces were beaten so badly that fingerprints were used to determine identity.
2. The Acquittal of John Holmes
John Holmes spilled most of the shocking details to detectives when he was first picked up for the murders. He was protected by law enforcement and kept at a hotel along with his wife, Sharon Holmes and his girlfriend, Dawn Schiller.
He refused to give up the names of the people that committed the murders and refused to testify. They turned the trio loose without protection. Sharon and Dawn dyed his hair and he spray-painted his van. Holmes and Dawn went on the run, but she later turned him in when began using drugs and beat her, again.
Detectives felt Holmes knowingly lead Nash’s men back to Wonderland Avenue, despite knowing that Diles and the others intended to kill the gang members. They tried him for the murders based on his bloody handprint, but he was acquitted of the charges. He did do some time as a result of stolen property charges and for contempt of court after refusing to testify.
He only served 8 months, but died of complications from AIDS in 1988. His new wife, Laurie Holmes made sure all of his parts were intact before he was cremated, just as he requested.
1. Eddie Nash & Gregory Diles
Eddie Nash and Gregory Diles were both arrested and charged in 1988 for the Four on the Floor Murders. They were tried twice between 1990 and 1991. The first trial was met by a hung jury 11-1, but Nash later confessed to bribing the holdout juror. The second trial in 91′ ended with an acquittal, but this was not the end of Nash’s legal woes in relation to the murders. Gregory Diles died in 1995 and unfortunately he was not around to be charged again with Nash in 2000.
Authorities were not ready to let the murders go unpunished and dragged Nash from his home in his pajamas for what they thought was drugs, but was later found to be a mothball. He was tried again for the murders after being arrested in 2000 for charges that included racketeering, money laundering, and tampering of the witness from 1990. At the time he was 78. He pled guilty for some of the charges including conspiracy of the Four on the Floor Murders, in return for a lesser sentence. He was ordered to 36 months, but was released early for health reasons.
Nash never admitted to ordering the deaths of the Wonderland Gang. He only admitted to sending his men to retrieve the goods stolen from him, yet also claimed that it “could have led to violence, which might have resulted in death”.
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