The Wonderland House
Imagine a house just sitting there like any other on the block. Even if you’ve just moved in or lived there awhile, you cannot imagine what happened in the past with someone who lived there. The Wonderland House might seem like an ordinary home in the Los Angeles suburbs. However, it was a house that gained infamy in the 1980s for such reasons that could even shock a longtime local. The home was a site of an infamous homicide involving one of the most recognized adult film stars of his time. While there had been no arrests even to this day, the place still might be haunted with a spirit or two that may tell the story of what actually happened. We will discuss the Wonderland House and the infamous murder that took place nearly 40 years ago and how it might be haunted even to this day.
Wonderland: Before The Murders
The house located on 8763 Wonderland Avenue in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Laurel Canyon. Prior to the murders, five people resided in the home: Ron Launius, Billy DeVerell, DeVerrel’s girlfriend Joy Audrey Gold Miller, Tracy McCourt and David Lind. All five occupants were known for dealing drugs while using themselves. Aside from their drug dealings, some of the occupants were known for committing robberies and burglaries throughout Los Angeles. One such occurrence happened on June 29, 1981. Launius, DeVerell, McCourt, and Lind had invaded the home of Eddie Nash, a known organized crime boss, and nightclub owner. The four men had broke in and eventually robbed Nash at his home. One of Nash’s bodyguards was seriously injured as a result of a gunshot.
Prior to the robbery, Nash was visited on three separate occasions throughout the day by John Holmes, known at the time as one of the most popular adult film stars. Holmes had entered the home while the doors were unlocked. During one of the visits, Nash’s bodyguard Gregory Diles spotted Holmes and noticed that the latter was wearing one of Nash’s rings. Diles soon tracked down Holmes and brought him back to the home for questioning. One witness named Scott Thorson (who was best known as a partner of famous musician Liberace) stopped by the house to purchase drugs. While there, he noticed a man resembling Holmes being tied to a chair and being beaten by Diles. It appeared to have been an interrogation of some kind, which may have lead to Holmes identifying some personal associates of his who were targeting Nash.
In the early morning hours of July 1, 1981 an unknown number of male assailants had entered the home. It was said that they were carrying hammers and pipes as weapons. As a result, Launius, Miller, DeVerrel, and Barbara Richardson (the girlfriend of David Lind) were killed. Their cause of death was blunt force trauma. Launius’s wife Susan was gravely injured and is the only known survivor of the attack. As a result, she suffered permanent amnesia and had a part of her skull and portions of a finger surgically removed. Lind and McCourt were not present at the home due to the murders since Lind was at a nearby hotel consuming drugs with a friend while McCourt was at an apartment that he apparently rented for himself.
Since the event occurred in the early morning hours, no phone calls were made to the police until at least 12 hours after the fact. Movers who were working next door had heard audible moans coming from the Wonderland house and soon discovered a seriously injured Susan Launius laying on the bed next to her deceased husband. It was said that while the home was known for hosting drug-fueled parties, neighbors assumed the loud noises and screams were just another party. Just days after the attack, the Los Angeles Police Department investigated the murders and searched the house for evidence. They had discovered that an untold amount of cocaine and other valuables were stolen, totaling about $1 million. One thing that stood out during the investigation was a print of a left-hand that apparently belonged to Holmes. This discovery would lead to Holmes’s arrest in March of 1982.
While prosecutors were attempting to paint Holmes as one of the willing participants of the murders, Holmes attorneys were able to prove that Holmes was not involved with the murders, but rather a victim who was forced to allow the assailants entry into the home to carry out the attack. While he was acquitted with the murders, he served 110 days in jail for refusing to cooperate with authorities and was charged with contempt.
Aftermath Of The Holmes Trial
After the trial, Holmes would serve out his jail time. However, he died in 1988. Prior to his passing, the LAPD was still investigating the murders long after the trial of Holmes had ended. Detectives were questioning Holmes about what happened, with the latter giving little to no information about the incident. Employees of the VA hospital where Holmes lived out his last days recalled seeing Holmes give incoherent answers or not even responding to the questions at all due to the severity of his illness. In his last days, it was reported that Holmes no longer wanted to cooperate with authorities regarding the murders. However, a month after his passing, Holmes’s first wife disclosed in an interview that John Holmes had arrived at her home with blood splatter all over him. She claimed that John told her that he witnessed the murders after leading the apparent assailants inside the house and watched the murders occur. He did not disclose the names of those responsible.
However, it wasn’t until 1990 when Eddie Nash and his bodyguard were both arrested and were accused of their roles in the murder. After the trial ended in a hung jury, they were retried the following year and were later acquitted. Gregory Diles would die in 1997. Others associated with the Wonderland home were also later deceased. David Lind died of a heroin overdose in 1995 while Tracy McCourt died of unknown causes in 2006. Eddie Nash had died in 2014. A decade earlier, he was tried and later convicted on unrelated charges and had spent time in prison. However, he had admitted that he hired people to retrieve some property that belonged to him that was at the Wonderland house prior to police arriving to investigate the murders themselves. It was unclear whether or not the occupants of the home were already dead by the time they arrived to pick up what Nash requested.
The Wonderland murders were the subject of two Hollywood films. One was “Boogie Nights” starring Mark Wahlberg and Burt Reynolds. The film itself didn’t have a scene that was based on the Wonderland Murders, but there was once a scene that was loosely based on the robbery of Nash. In 2003, a film titled “Wonderland” was based on the events surrounding the murders.
Is The Wonderland House Really Haunted?
While it is unclear of any paranormal activity happening at the site of one of the most gruesome homicides in Los Angeles history, some have told stories of the possibility of John Holmes’s ghost still hanging around the house. However, the spirits of the occupants who had been savagely murdered on that July night may also still be out and about. The home at one point was up for rent for the price of $3,000 a month. While there probably had been tenants coming in and out, it’s unknown at this point whether they can confirm if the place was indeed haunted. But there is no doubt that for those who may have known the story, they cannot help but get an eerie feeling each time they enter the house.
While the Wonderland murders still remain unsolved to this day, many of those who were connected in some way are no longer living. But that may not mean that some of the spirits of the Wonderland house are not done telling the story of what really happened here. While you may not be able to get inside the home itself, don’t be surprised if things start to feel a little eerie if you happen to be walking around Wonderland Avenue in Los Angeles.