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  • John 9:43 am on April 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    A Very Rough Draft Of Chapter One 

    I have not red-lined this, it’s a first cut and incomplete, but I have been writing a few chapters. For chapter 1, I am toying with the idea of doing brief paragraphs to show the origins and background of the key players…. let me know what you think. There will be photos accompanying each person’s intro… I love including photos, because it makes the story so much more interesting. Maybe the book will also come with a CD of my audio interviews ;-)

    I still have a few interviews to track down, of course. But, when I’m done I am going to self-publish the damn thing. If my friend’s neighbor can publish a boring book on his struggles with the bottle, then certainly anyone can get a book out there. I have a day job, so these things take time.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    TBA – probably will be written by Nils Grevillius or Kevin Deverell, if they oblige.


    I am scared to death.

    In a few minutes, I will be taking an interview with Wonderland private eye and author Nils Grevillius. I will be recording the call and with no plan B there is little I can do but take notes if there is an technical or electronics failure. And there will be. I am not a journalist, so I do not do this sort of thing for a living. My nerves kick in. That nervousness. Will I run out of questions and have my mind go blank? Will my voice crackle and waver, sound ridiculous and amateurish? How am I going to pull this off?

    Chapter 1

    Ronnie Lee Launius was a middle class kid and the oldest of three boys to Arlin and Betty Launius. He was born in Illinois during World War II. His father, Arlin, was in the Army Air Force for about five years. From Lithuanian and German stock, Arlin Launius was a handsome country boy originally from the southern Missouri area and before the war he worked as a “Laborer” on his older cousin’s farm. The family lived off the land; they drank well water and still used an outhouse. 1940 was a particularly rough year, as Arlin only earned $120, according to the US Census. Before Arlin joined the service, he was living a very hardscrabble life. But, like so many other young American men, the army would provide opportunity, job training, references and a gateway to a better life.

    Adel Nasrallah was a good looking kid. With his chiseled features, thick exotic dark hair and sexy olive skin there is no doubt that he would later try his hand at acting. Hollywood abides, and some get lucky. Adel had luck, even appearing in a bit part on the TV show, “The Cisco Kid” in 1952. He had come to America during the 1940s as a teenager, but was hard working and within a few years owned his own business, a hot dog stand in North Hollywood called Beef’s Chuck. Legend has it that Adel was from a family of Palestinian restaurateurs and hoteliers. Legend also has it that he came to this country with less than ten dollars in his pocket. It is not true. Eddie came here with his immediate family, a mother and a brother. It is doubtful to say that he was broke. Like Ronnie, Adel was also from a middle class family. He had come a long way, but still carried the nightmares of muzzle flashes and the shooting of his brother at the hands of the Israeli army. For his early troubles in life, Adel would later be granted every last ounce of the American dream, and he would live life to the fullest.

    The central valley of California was booming with growth after World War II. The numerous military bases provided the launching pad for economic prosperity for the next few decades. Anyone could come there and find a job. Arlin Launius was one of these transplants. He immediately found work as a “Cabinet Maker” and his young family would prosper, even living in a new neighborhood for veterans that sprang up in Stockton. This small enclave called “Country Club” was indeed surrounded by golf courses and filled with new houses. Some even had swimming pools. Most of the homes were medium to large size ranch-style dwellings. Ronnie and his brothers, Rickey and Dave, would initially grow up here and in to middle school. They lived on West Princeton Street, a block from the golf course and a block from the little league fields. It was fifties America at its finest, a Norman Rockwell painting for the new post-war age.

    In the late fifties, the first known address for Adel Nasrallah in L.A. would be a nice little white Spanish-style hacienda type cottage in West Hollywood. The home had curb appeal yet its size was deceptive. The house appeared diminutive from the street but it stretched back quite far on a narrow lot, had a nice driveway and garage which all connected to a large backyard and garden. Residential on the street side, the home’s backyard butted up against a few small commercial buildings and offices on a busy four-lane street. Nasrallah had done well, and his luck would only grow, if you could even call it luck. Adel had one hell of a work ethic, and he was smart and savvy. He was already beginning to know what Los Angeles wanted. He was one hell of a businessman.

    David Clay Lind was the consummate jokester. With his tall stature, well built frame and thick dark hair, along with a smile designed to charm the ladies, he too was a good looking kid. David was the son of a loving mother, but of a father who walked out on him as a baby. His mother, Bernice, was a beautiful woman with long, raven hair and glamorous, breathtaking Hollywood features. After David’s father ran off, she would soon after marry a kindly ex-GI, a local hardworking war hero. This combination would provide a loving home life for the young Lind as he grew into maturity. Any dark stuff or trouble that David carried in life was most likely from his real father’s side of the family. Like most boys, David was a bit of a show off, and bought a motorcycle at a young age. According to his cousin, David was always on his motorcycle, always fun to be around, and always a character. According to his brother, David was a jokester. And although David took a few extra years, he would finally graduate from Lodi High School at about age 20 in 1961.

    William Ray Deverell was a tough kid from central Los Angeles. Born in the late thirties, “Billy” would spend his early years growing up in the Figueroa area. The stocky and well-built Deverell would excel at quarterback while playing football, but he would later dropped out of school. He was quite good at football and at one point he even had a half-ass agent. Billy eventually got into some drug trouble, and it was enough to get him sent to a few state juvenile offender camps throughout California. The most notable being the infamous “Tracy” detention center outside of the Sacramento area. Although incarcerated as a juvenile offender, Billy would meet up with some good people, learn a few trades and was eventually enrolled in a state vocational program and institute for troubled kids called “DVI”, initials which Billy would later bear as a tattoo on his ankle, along with the many other tats that he had. Like the others, Billy was a handsome kid, with a head full of sandy brown hair, hazel green eyes, and one hell of a nice smile. At around age 20, Billy’s oldest child, Kevin, would be born. Billy was working in construction and heavy equipment by this time, a career that he would prosper at for the next twenty years. During the sixties and seventies, the Deverells would host some epic neighborhood football games, with Billy usually being recruited by the kids to serve as “all time quarterback”, while defenders tried to cover the various ends and receivers, running routes and going out for passes. Life was good, and it was a damn good time to live in southern California.

    Barbara Lee Easton grew up in a new suburb east of Sacramento called Rancho Cordova. She was known in the family as “Barbara Lee”, as her mother and grandmother were also named Barbara. Her middle name came from her father, Leroy Easton. In high school, Barbara was a bit of a nerd. She attended Cordova High School and graduated during the year of America’s bicentennial in 1976. She grew up in a nice new neighborhood and her street was a few blocks from the high school. Just after graduating from high school, Barbara would fall in love with and marry a young man a few years her senior from the north Sacramento suburbs named Walter Richardson. Who knows what happened, but they would only be married a few years before getting divorced. According to her cousin, “Barbara was very pretty, kind and a blonde. She was the apple of everyone’s eye but by the late 70s, she was already going down the rocky road (with drugs)”. After being informed of the Wonderland murders, Barbara’s parents would drive all night to Los Angeles, with the false hope that their daughter was the one who had survived the assault.

    Like Ron Launius, Joy Audrey Gold Miller was born in Illinois. But as Ron was born in the rural, central part of the state near the town of Dwight, Joy was born in the quaint well-to-do suburbs of west Chicago. Joy’s father was a Jewish businessman, and he would later move the Golds to sunny southern California where he would prosper as the proprietor of a liquor and wine business. Although a blonde later in life, Joy was a pretty brunette in her freshman photo in the 1950 yearbook at Beverly Hills High School. At this time, her family lived at some luxury courtyard apartments in the Pico Union area of east Beverly Hills. Within a few years of finishing school, Joy would marry a young attorney named Melvin Miller. They would have two daughters, Michelle and Marla, before divorcing in the early 1970s.

    Susan Annette Murphy was the daughter of a well-off restaurateur in Marysville, California named Charles Murphy. Susan was a late addition to the family, as her father was in his forties when she was born. Her father was in his seventies at the time of the Wonderland murders, and he was too old and frail to make the trip to Los Angeles to visit his injured daughter. According to the widow of Ron’s good friend, Carroll Evan Sherrill, Ron and Susan seemed to be very much in love, but both were intent in getting what they wanted from the relationship. With all of the military bases sprinkled throughout the central valley region of California, there is no doubt that the young women in the area, were captivated by all of the young servicemen in uniform. Ron Launius was one of these handsome young servicemen.

    Fay Wetzel was a young woman from the small central valley town of Atwater, California. In the early sixties, she would be impregnated by a young serviceman who was stationed at the nearby Air Force base. In fact, Fay would have her baby delivered at the infirmary there, and the fourteen year old girl’s family would immediately have the baby girl put up for adoption. A few years later, Fay would meet and marry a young Air Force man named Ronnie Lee Launius. This would be his first marriage and yet it only lasted about four years, half of which was when Ron was serving his two tours at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base in eastern Thailand. Sadly, Fay passed away in 1988 at about age forty due to unknown circumstances. Thus, with her troubled earlier life, giving a baby up for adoption and the pain that comes with that, along with being married to a man often away on military duty, there is no doubt that she must have lived a life of sadness, loneliness, depression and regret. The young couple would divorce in 1970, a year before Ron was honorably discharged from the Air Force, and a year before he and Susan Murphy were to be married.

    Gregory Dewitt Diles was a large, hulking figure of a man, even as a teenager. Growing up near south central Los Angeles, he would excel at football at Los Angeles High School. In his senior year, the football team went undefeated and was barely scored on by other teams. They would be awarded the title of “City Champs” after steamrolling through the local competition. His mother must have been so proud, as Greg graduated from high school in 1966. His large size, reflected even in his yearbook photographs, was evident even back then. His powerful athletic physical prowess would in later life, turn against him, as he struggled with weight problems and obesity for the rest of his life. As a young man, Greg found work at the local L.A. clubs working as a bouncer and security man. In the seventies, Greg would eventually befriend his employer, one Eddie Nash, and serve as his driver, bodyguard and roommate. Their friendship would last until Greg’s eventual demise in 1997, as he suffered from kidney ailments, diabetes and obesity. He was about fifty years old. Greg’s little brother, Sammy, was a chip of the old block, as he also suffered from weight problems and he too was a bouncer for Nash. Sam died five years later in 2002 from unknown causes, but his decline was probably related to drugs, alcohol and the obesity and weight problems that also haunted his brother, Greg.

    By the 1960s, Adel Nasrallah had kept his acting moniker and had legally changed his name to Eddie Nash. In 1969, Jeanna Beabout was a beautiful young eighteen year old girl from the San Fernando Valley. At Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, the gorgeous long-haired brunette was one of eight varsity cheerleaders. By the time Jeanna was twenty-one years old, she was being romanced by a forty year old wealthy restaurateur named Eddie Nash. At this time, Eddie was living in a big two-story house with a pool in Woodland Hills in the west valley. This home even butted up against part of the mountain range at the far west end of the San Fernando Valley. In 1973, a year after they were married in Las Vegas, Eddie and Jeanna would have a new addition to the family, a little boy, and a birth announcement was placed by the proud parents in the local newspaper. To escape the boonies of the quiet west valley, the happy couple quickly moved into the infamous Studio City home that same year, as the stylish and sprawling home was a wedding present to his new young bride. Ed and Jeanna would be married about ten years; finally having the divorce finalized a month after the Wonderland murders. The last five years of their marriage was marred by Eddie’s constant philandering, late night partying, and increasing drug use. Their once happy marriage would be concluded by one of the most brutal mass murders in American history.

    • ArtBabe 5:01 pm on April 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      You’ve created quite a nice foundation for the principle characters involved so far. Good job!

    • Ken D. 5:35 pm on April 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Great job so far John….

    • localarts 6:48 am on April 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      No mention of Tracy McCourt in your summary of the key players?

    • Jim 8:48 am on April 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      John, nice start. I do agree with local arts that McCourt should be included among the key players.
      He lived longer than all the other players except for Nash. In addition, he kept his wits about him right after the robbery. He didn’t get high and left the house immediately after the split of money and drugs.
      He realized that revenge would be sought and he didn’t want to be anywhere near 8763 Wonderland.

    • criticextraordinaire 5:31 pm on April 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Doesn’t it need to provide a background on Johnny “the Wadd” Holmes too?

    • Jenny 6:54 pm on April 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Great start, Johnny-cat. I’ve been waiting on a tell all chock-full of details noone really knows!
      Again, great work. Keep it up.

    • localarts 9:03 pm on April 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      John, do you have a working title for the book? It would be really cool if this thing picks up steam and gains national media exposure. Wishful thinking but it would be pretty neat indeed!

  • John 8:39 am on March 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Gary Fontenot, Manager Of The Starwood 

    Gary Fontenot was the manager of the Starwood during its heyday in the seventies and until the club closed in 1981. Although we heard a bit about Gary from Lee who worked at the Starwood (read those amazing posts here), not much else was really known about him. Gary was from a large family and he grew up in a very small town in southwestern Louisiana. Like so many others, he headed out west to Los Angeles to seek a better life.

    Gary passed away in Honduras in March of 1999. From the information available, it is easy to say that Gary Fontenot was a good man. I thank his brother, Patrick, for answering some of my questions and filling in the blanks.

    Rest in peace, Gary.

    In Memory of Gary Fontenot. Rest in Peace.

    In Memory of Gary Fontenot. Rest in Peace.

    Here is a start John…keeping in mind that I was living in Victorville California…stationed at George AFB.  I was in the Air Force and stationed there from 1977 – 1980/81.

    Did you ever visit your brother at his house in Studio City during the 70s or 80s? Did you meet any showbiz types?

    My family and I visited Gary as often as possible on the weekends.  I am not that familiar with Los Angeles and that area…but Gary lived in a rather nice little place that was pretty much walking distance to Sunset Blvd and it did not seem like it was a far drive from the Starwood.  I do not remember the street name.  He lived there with his friend Michael and Michael I believe was a nurse…doing private work if I recall.  They had been friends for some time.  I would also take some of my military friends to Gary’s home on Friday nights so they could experience the nightclub life at the Starwood.  He would give us the VIP treatment everytime we would visit.

    What exactly happened to Gary at the end of his life? Was he really living in central America? Retired?

    When things began to go downhill for Gary he decided to move to Honduras.  He actually drove there with some kid that I believe was from that area were they settled.  Gary opened his own place down there and seemed to be happy…always inviting me to visit.  However, by nature of my military job, I had to be very careful.  Gary experienced an attempted robbery one evening when closing and was shot in the stomach.  I don’t think he ever recovered, although his cause of death was attributed to prostate cancer.  My brother Dale, flew down to Honduras several times to visit Gary and the last time he flew down was to ensure Gary received a proper burial.

    Did Gary ever discuss Eddie Nash, who was his boss at the Starwood?

    Gary did in fact talk a little about Nash.  Lot of times it was in anger, however many times I believe the tone was respect.  Nash would provide Gary with new cars which Gary loved…he did like showing off a little.  I remember the last car given to Gary by Nash was a brand new Cadillac…we would drive to the Starwood in it and employees of the Starwood would jump in the car to park it when they recognized Gary in the car.

    What did Gary do for a living right after the Starwood closed?

    After the Starwood, Gary was not the same.  He moved into an apartment complex and dabbled a little in real estate…but was unemployed a lot of the time;although he would never tell me.  When at the Starwood, he was in control and afterward he seemed to lose that feeling.  The apartment complex was nothing fancy…about the only thing I remember about it was a visitor that came by one day while I was there.  Gary introduced him as an ex-FBI individual.  I assumed he was because he was carrying a gun.  They did not talk about anything specific and I guessed they had been acquaintances from way back.

    Did your brother ever tell you that his house was shot up by a dealer with a machine gun? He was looking for the soundman of the Starwood, who owed him some money? Gary allegedly let the soundman, Dom Fragomeli, stay at his house in Studio City for a few weeks in 1981.

    In 1981 I left California for Texas.  I don’t think Gary was living in the original home when I first got to California.  I am thinking he was still living in the apartment complex…is that what you meant as far as “home”.  Gary barely mentioned that happening…we would talk by phone…He did not go into detail.  But, knowing Gary, it would not surprise me that he had allowed someone to stay in his home.  He was just that type of person.  I believe he left California shortly after that incident.  Keep in mind, the Nash thing, the Starwood, coupled by him losing a lot of money in the stock market…Gary needed a change.  He had a hate/love relationship with California.  As a small town boy, Los Angeles and the Hollywood scene took its toll on Gary.  He was apparently good at what he did, managing nightclubs, but did rub elbows with some questionable people.

    Hope this helps…as you think of questions, let me know and I will answer them the best I can. Will try and dig up some photos of Gary.  You would really need to know where and how he grew up to understand the personal conflict he had with the whole Hollywood scene…

    Have a great day.

    • Bonnie Brae 4:41 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Damn John. You are thorough.

    • John 6:46 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thoroughly in love! I’d be offended if you weren’t so sexy.

      • Bonnie Brae 10:09 am on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I’d be offended if you thought I was anything else!

      • Gayle 10:07 pm on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        You are right about that John, she is a totally sexy! …and a fantastic person, I am grateful for her friendship.

    • Bonnie Brae 10:12 am on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      And yes. Your passion for this blog is part of your charm.

    • Mykal Fontenot 7:13 pm on March 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi john, my names mykal fontenot, and i am gary fontenots nephew and godson. It was as a result of my interest in my uncle, that i found your blog, and after questioning my father patrick about it, that he in turn contacted you…. i would just like to say thank you for sharing a mutual respect for my uncle, as well as for going out of your way to share his story, and keep his spirit alive…..much love, brother….rock n roll. Mykal

      • John 6:09 pm on March 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        It was my pleasure, Mykal. Thanks for the kind words. God bless.

    • Bonnie Brae 7:00 pm on March 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I am so jelly Gayle. You are one of very few people that actually grew up in LA.

    • Ken D. 5:00 pm on April 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Not heard anything out of you in awhile there bud. Hope everything is well!

    • Gayle 11:20 pm on March 23, 2014 Permalink

      So this was very interesting John. My friend and I were talking about the old Starwood days…she remembers a big black bouncer there, made me wonder if it was Diles! Ha!

    • Gayle 2:38 pm on March 24, 2014 Permalink

      I always wondered who managed the Starwood. I hung out there from 78 to 81…it wasn’t an over 21 club so we could get in being so young.

  • John 7:09 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Interview With Kevin Deverell & Photo Of Paul Kelly 

    Kevin Deverell and I spoke yesterday for 45 minutes. Kevin was serving in the US Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal when his father died.

    This is a true crime discussion forum. The whole point is to discuss details and find out the truth. The real story and the back-story so to speak. The visitors and posters at this blog feel compassion for the departed, because we have all had someone close to us lost to drugs, crime, or loved ones who got mixed up with the wrong crowd. In Wonderland, the truth about those involved was elusive in this case from the very beginning. It is nice to finally begin to find out the truth. In the decades since the 80s, some of the key figures (Thorson, Schiller) have even changed their stories somewhat. Erroneous details, exaggerations and accusations have consistently been thrown around by the media, sensationalized TV shows and so on. Thus, it is nice to start finding out the truth and setting the record straight. Thanks to Nils and Kevin, Jill Nelson and blog contributors for helping me out in this arena. The goal of this blog from the beginning was to gain exposure, through genuine discussion with key people, and possibly do a book or “real” documentary. If you’re new here, use the Search button because some of the highlights include contributions from Holmes author, Jill C. Nelson, Nils Grevillius, Julia Negron (ex-wife of Three Dog Night singer, Chuck), Lee who worked at the Starwood and knew Eddie Nash. There is also the close family friend of Tracy McCourt, the widow of Ron Launius’ friend, Carroll Evan Sherrill, among others. Go to Podcasts in the drop down menu if you want to listen to my interview from last year with Wonderland investigator and private eye, Nils Grevillius. Thanks for stopping by, but please don’t leave comments in anger or use curse words.

    Stream the interview here:

    Play or Download the mp3 audio file here:

    Also included is a photo of Billy Deverell and Paul Kelly, circa 1960s. Billy was 27 years old in this photo. Thanks again, Kevin!

    Billy Deverell and Paul Kelly

    Billy Deverell and Paul Kelly

    • criticextraordinaire 9:10 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      re: Billy’s 13 arrests. Would that not be public record? I’m pretty sure that info would be available to prove or disprove, at least the arrests and any possible convictions.

      • John 8:27 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        While this is possible if you know someone, it’s pretty impossible to walk in or phone a police station or Sheriff’s office and say you want someone’s criminal records. Even if they are deceased. Even if you are family. Basically in this case, I guarantee that one cop told a reporter this number, and it was said once, and then got reprinted over and over again by the newspapers.

        The Freedom of Information Act is a joke. Especially if the clerk is too lazy to even fulfill your request. I have numerous requests over a year old with the prison systems, military records people, a Sheriff’s dept, state police, etc. Civil service has gone downhill, worse than it ever was before. Even if you pay them their fee. Good luck.

        • Bonnie Brae 10:46 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          Hey Jenn – Friend me on Facebook – ask John how to find me.

        • Bonnie Brae 10:53 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          John – you make some damn good points.

        • dreamweaverjenn 5:47 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          Oh no doubt…..I have personal experience with media taking one thing, blowing it waaaaaay out of proportion and spreading it everywhere…..

        • localarts 4:24 pm on March 12, 2014 Permalink

          Chris Cox statement somewhat dubunks Thorsons allegations about what happened to Holmes after Nash found out it was him who set up the robbery. I think Chris Cox said he heard that Nash had been robbed, and went up to Dona Lola to see Eddie. He said when he walked in the front door he saw John Holmes stand by the bar.

          That’s a big contrast from Thorson’s account. “Diles burst thru the front door with Holmes by the back of the neck and marched him straight to the bedroom. Thorson said they beat the hell out of Holmes and walked out of the bedroom an hour later with Holmes by the back of the neck with one hand and a pipe in the other.

          It’s like you were saying John, Thorson may have been just as big a liar as Holmes

        • John 5:54 pm on March 12, 2014 Permalink

          So according to Kevin and Nils, back in 2001 a 71 yr old Eddie Nash had a rough time at Terminal Island prison.

    • Bonnie Brae 9:50 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Nils is the Man.

    • criticextraordinaire 9:53 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Is Paul the guy who took a dump on Joy’s coffee table or something like that?

      • John 7:59 am on March 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I think that is what Kevin told me before, but it was a b-day cake. Paul must have been the life of the party.

    • Bonnie Brae 9:59 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Someone left a comment a while ago that we need to get a life. Could not agree more. At the same time it’s such a fascinating story.

      • dreamweaverjenn 11:21 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Ah, screw ‘em! It is a fascinating story! There is so much more to these people then “they did drugs, they were bad criminals, they were murdered” the end. So, if we need to get a life, what were they doing on here as well??

      • Eric B 1:33 am on March 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Funny! :) I was just checking this story on Facebook and my girlfriend peers over my shoulder and says, “GOOD GOD ARE YOU STILL READING THAT STUFF!??! THEY’RE ALL DEAD…” haha

    • Bonnie Brae 10:05 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I love the story about the Hawk. So sweet.

    • Bonnie Brae 10:15 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Cool interview. Thanks John. – I love when he asked why you were so interested in the story.

    • dreamweaverjenn 11:22 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome! Love this interview! Thanks John!

    • Bonnie Brae 11:43 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Final comment. I agree with Dream. We have heard all the speculation. The newspapers made sure we knew about all the dirt that sensationalized the story. Thank you Kevin for showing us the other side of your dad and letting us see the human guy that some people are unable to grasp. Why the fascination? hmmm good question. Why are people so fascinated with Jack the Ripper, or Dahlia?

      • swrworkingman 9:32 am on March 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        For me, the fascination has got to do with the lead pipes. Of course John’s double role and all, but the led pipes nails Nash as the stereotype godfather that he was, not only did he show no mercy, he wanted to send a message in the underworld of LA. Tom Lange points it out in the British documentary.

        • John 10:00 am on March 12, 2014 Permalink

          As bouncer at some of Nash’s clubs, Diles was known to wield a pipe fitted with a rubber bicycle handlebar grip to threaten unruly customers. He also chased a man from one of the clubs one time, emptying his gun at the man across 6 lanes of traffic at 2 in the afternoon. His brother, Sammy once pistol whipped the brother of a city councilman at the Kit Kat Club, for which he served 2 year I believe for assault.

        • dreamweaverjenn 9:14 am on March 13, 2014 Permalink

          Wow, these people were hard core. I can see Diles emptying his gun in broad daylight too and not EVEN worrying about it. Dang…..

        • localarts 10:16 am on March 13, 2014 Permalink

          I think Eddie Nash was the most dangerous person of all the people that been profiled on this blog. Eddie had a vast amount of resources available at his disposable. If I were to rank me:
          1) Eddie Nash
          2) Horace “Big Mac” McKenna
          3) Ron Launius
          4) John Curtis Holmes

      • localarts 9:27 pm on March 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        John Holmes did far worse than Billy ever did.

    • Nils Grevillius 12:21 pm on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Kevin is a good man and has my respect. I am glad the back story is included here, of real lives of real people. Good work, Weghorst.

    • localarts 3:11 pm on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Fantastic as always! Without John’s dedication and drive, some of the mysteries surrounding the people and events that led up to the murders would still be unknowns. It sounds like Billy was just a regular guy.
      Went to work, paid his bills, and raised a family then fell into drugs, unfortunately. The same thing can probably be said about Joy.

      Without going into alot of detail, if you remove John Curtis Homes from the equation, it changes the course of everyone’s life forever. Including, Eddie Nash. And that’s a fact.

      • dreamweaverjenn 4:21 pm on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I agree!

      • dreamweaverjenn 4:53 pm on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Some asshole started shit with me on Facebook because I didn’t like his comments and the fact that he referred to himself as John Holmes. I asked if was also a sorry piece of shit and then it was on, lol. Sometimes I can’t keep my comments to myself and it gets me in trouble……Most of the time I try to be a very nice lady (My daughter’s saying “yeah, right, Mom.”

    • Darlene 6:49 pm on March 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      It was close to end of May I seen Billy a week before this all happened , Joy was the worse thing that ever happened to him

    • Darla 9:27 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      If Billy was under survallience , Why was that not a factor in catching his murderers?

      • John 9:33 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Darla. I think the police were aware of things at the house but it was not being watched 100% of the time.

        • Darla 9:47 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          I knew him all my life the Good,the Bad and the Ugly, Growing up he wasn’t like what ppl are saying and honestly, the Movie I call ” Bullshit”

      • localarts 5:47 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I think the house was under surveillance not Billy specifically. The police were keeping tabs on who was coming and going in order to build a case. Joy was potentially looking at doing time already.

        • John 1:09 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink

          Yeah, the fuzz were probably checking out the house once in a while, but I doubt a team of narc’s were on the case full time.

    • localarts 10:32 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder whatever became of those antique Colt dueling pistols? Even back in 81 they would have been worth a fortune.

    • Tori 11:42 am on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Does kevin live in Orange County? Didn’t u say garden grove ?

      • Tori 12:09 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        My pops works for Bragg crane n rigging . They totally test randomly idk about back then. Like kevin said That kind of work there is no way you could be on drugs. Too dangerous.

      • John 12:36 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I’m not sure where.

        • Tori 2:08 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink

          John I showed my dad ur blog he loves it. He’s on it as we speak. He’s just as fascinated in wonderland as we are!He loves that song . Who’s song is it?!

        • John 3:31 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink

          Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes. It was the #1 song on the charts in June & July 1981.

    • dreamweaverjenn 5:53 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Bonnie, sent him a message <3

    • swrworkingman 12:55 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I kind of feel sorry for the actor who had the role as Tracy in Wonderland, if it is true they wrote him more or less out of the movie because of the real Tracy being a pain in the ass ;)

      • John 1:01 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        You mean George Leonardopoulos? LOL. Yes, his career also took a nosedive after the movie. He appeared in very little and also suffered a setback LOL

        • swrworkingman 1:05 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink

          Its all McCourts fault, haha

        • Bobby 4:34 am on March 12, 2014 Permalink

          ..And what a terrible line and delivery too! Doesn’t he say something like “Sure thing boss!” as if he’s in a damn James Cagney gangster flick after one of the gang tells him he’s the wheelman. Makes we cringe whenever I see it. Almost as bad as that extra slapping his thigh to the music when Lind enters the house for the first time during the party scene. When you see how badly that guy is overacting it can never be unseen! LOL!

        • dreamweaverjenn 5:36 am on March 12, 2014 Permalink

          Every time I watch it I notice something like that, the thigh slapping or someone saying something cheesy…..

    • John 4:41 pm on March 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      John Holmes died on this date in 1988. 3-13.

      • localarts 5:25 pm on March 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, and he took alot of secrets with him. Anyone willing to speculate where Holmes is spending his days now?

    • Mike 11:55 pm on March 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Interestingly you can hear a hawk calling loudly on one of the Wonderland walk-through vids on YouTube.

    • kdimmick 12:19 am on March 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Is Paul Kelly still alive?

      • John 5:49 am on March 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Ken, nobody really knows. He’s be about 70+ now if he was alive.

        • Ken D. 3:17 am on March 15, 2014 Permalink

          Here is a tidbit of information that I do not know if you are aware of if it is true…
          Back when the movie WONDERLAND came out Lions Gate had a discussion board that a lot of people used to post at but it eventually got shut down due to all the crap that went on there. Anyway…..There was a lady from Canada who posted there.She was a painter by the name of Denise LafFrance who was planning to write and illustrate with her portraits of porn people a coffee table type book about the golden age of porn. She went on a trip to L.A. in order to meet a lot of the old time porn performers. She was wired in pretty tight with Cass Paley and he was making introductions to of her to people like Bob Chinn,Bill Margold etc…. After she got back from her trip I asked her how it went and what all she did while she was there and she related an interesting visit that she took with Bill Amerson to Glickman’s bail bond office there in L.A.. Glickman regaled her with old stories about Eddie Nash and also mentioned that an old friend of Ron Launius’s worked there with him but was not in at the time…..that friend of Launius’s was Paul Kelly. She said that her and Bill Amerson waited awhile for Kelly to get back but they had to leave when he hadn’t shown up after awhile so she never did actually meet him.
          Do you by any chance know anything about a Hal Glickman/Paul Kelly connection?

        • John 7:26 am on March 15, 2014 Permalink

          I will ask Nils about Hal Glickman, if he is still around and such. In his investigation he found that Glickman’s wife may have given Holmes a ride home that fateful morning. Thanks for the lead, maybe it will open up some channels!

    • Jill C. Nelson 1:44 pm on March 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “In his investigation he found that Glickman’s wife may have given Holmes a ride home that fateful morning. Thanks for the lead, maybe it will open up some channels!”

      John, this is information Tom Lange touched on briefly when we spoke with him. We didn’t use it verbatim in the book because it couldn’t be confirmed. He said he believed they (LAPD) located the car eventually, that had dropped Holmes off at Sharon’s or at Bill Amerson’s since both claimed on the record that John arrived at their homes during the early hours on July 1st. The distance between Glenwood and Sherman Oaks is not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away — it’s approximately eleven miles — so it’s hard to imagine that Holmes arrived at both doorsteps even if he’d had a lift, unless he cloned himself. We asked Lange about the car when it was found, did it have blood in the interior. Lange couldn’t recall or wasn’t certain. He couldn’t commit either way.

      The following are direct quotes from Tom Lange extracted from our September 2007 interview in which he references Dottie Glickman, Scott Thorson, Holmes and Nash. Some of it might be recycled information for readers, some of it not.

      Tom Lange: “We had other witnesses too. We had Hal Glickman’s wife, who is also deceased, who is the one that supposedly drove the killers to the house. She was in hiding, you know, and there was a big rigamarole over that. She was in hiding and she died, too. Dottie Glickman was her name. We looked for the car and we spent hundreds and hundreds of man hours over the years on this thing. We found phony leads. She never really gave us specifics.”

      Tom Lange: “We had Thorson’s car up at Nash’s house right after the murders. He said he overheard Diles beat up John. There’s always a little bit of truth to what someone says. When they’re impeached how much of what they say is true? How much do they embellish their statement for this reason or that reason? Books are written on that subject.”

      Tom Lange: “The pressure was on John. We would have rather not filed a murder charge against John. We wanted him as a witness, but he would have to have been completely forthcoming. Say ‘Yes, I opened the door, I knew what they were going to do.’ And if you were in fear of your life, which he probably was, then that’s what you say. ‘I saw them go to the victims and I saw them beat the victims and they made me take some whacks, I had blood on me. I went to Sharon’s house and I went to Amerson’s house,’ wherever he went. ‘This is what I did and this is what I did with the clothing.’ He needed to make a bold confession, not little admissions where he ended up playing a game. If he did that, then he would have been a witness and given immunity. But instead he played the game. Therefore, we had to put this so-called domino theory into effect to pressure him.”

      Tom Lange: “Nash was a suspect and certainly the motive was very strong and we’d done a background on all these people. We were finding out that Nash had been very insulated in the city for all these years, like the Teflon Don thing. Nobody could ever nail him. And there was a reason for that. You had political corruption, and you had police corruption, and he was a very insulated individual. This was rampant. That’s why he walked for so many years, and basically, he got away with anything he wanted. So, he was a hard nut to crack.
      Of course, then we found out that the feds were investigating him and there were dirty feds involved. Corrupt feds. They had come to our department behind our back and said that we were dirty and we were in bed with Ed Nash — forcing our department to investigate us when they were the ones that were involved — thereby derailing the investigation for a number of years. Which is exactly what they wanted to do.”

      • localarts 3:06 pm on March 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Nils Grevillius said Dottie Glickman gave Holmes a ride as well. You know you’re dealing with a very, very big fish (Nash) when everybody either goes into hiding or wants witness protection.

        I remember I once said on this blog, Nash’s power was far reaching and Jill’s quote from Lange would seem to support this plus Nils thought the more fascinating aspect about the whole thing was what appeared to be a cover up, it would sure seem that way.

        It would be interesting to know just how far up the ladder this went?

      • John 3:11 pm on March 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Jill. Amazing. Those tapes belong in the Smithsonian right near the 75 Granada and John & Sharon’s Malibu. This seemingly soft corruption by the cops or powers that be is underrated / understated. I’m sure there was more payola floating around from Ed to some judges or cops. I doubt he was slipping under the radar because he buying drinks and dinner for these people.

    • John 8:51 am on March 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I just finished reading Chuck Negron’s book, 3 Dog Nightmare. Kevin sent me a copy. The Wonderland section is brief, but very telling. What Chuck says about Joy and Billy backs up what Kevin said in a way. Joy was owed by just about everyone, even Chuck and Julia Negron. Thus, Billy was collecting for her, shortly after they began dating. Kevin said to me this past weekend “You did not want to owe Billy Deverell money”. Before Billy was around, one of Joy’s suppliers named Jack had slapped around Joy because of money that Chuck and some others owed.

      Chuck would trade Joy for antique furniture, jewelry, etc. Chuck was also arrested twice while driving away from Joy’s apartment in Brentwood. She must have been watched for some time. One time, Julia picked up Chuck at Joy’s because Chuck was in no condition to drive. Julia fell asleep and they got into a bad car wreck. Chuck also says in the book that Fat Howard shot up his house over an unpaid drug debt. Chuck did a counter-threat to Fat Howard Cook, and I guess it scared him and Cook told Joy to tell Chuck that don’t worry, we’re all square. Although delinquent on debts, Chuck didn’t take any crap, and once burned up a dealer’s garage who had taken his Benz.

      The Wonderland chapter is very brief but awesome. The only mistake was saying Billy was an ex-con, which he was not. Chuck called Holmes a “worn out loser” or something like that and said he was friends with all 4 people who died that night. He would have been there but was sleeping off a dopesick day. The guys at the house must have thought he would stop by, thus the Three Dog Night album “Harmony” was out, and on the turntable, according to the crime scene.

      I was hoping Chuck would mention Bill “Ricco” Vlick but he never did.

      • localarts 10:42 am on March 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Great stuff. I wonder if Joy kept a ledger for accounts receivable & accounts payable? I’m only half kidding but you would think Joy or Billy would have kept some kind of record of who owed what. Even though what they were doing was illegal, it was in essence a business.

      • Kevin 5:42 pm on March 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Wow John well I guess I could’ve got my question answered by coming to this blog site I didn’t realize this is going to take me days to go through I bet I could answer a lot of questions and get a lot of questions answered also good job

      • Bobby 2:14 am on March 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Would LOVE to read that Wonderland chapter! Any chance you could put a scan of it up on this here blog?.. or perhaps some of the highlights?… We love you long time..;)

    • mark c 6:24 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Kevin Deverell sound’s like a very nice person.
      Been a pleasure just listen to him.

  • John 10:36 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Observations From “John Holmes, A Life Measured In Inches” 

    This is not a review, but 5 stars is not scoring it high enough in my opinion. A wealth of information.

    A few things to mention and then you’ll have to buy the book, if you have not already.

    • Eddie Nash sat in the back of the courtroom during Holmes’ trial. He just stared at Holmes most of the time. (Man, Nash had some balls). The intimidation factor in full effect. With David Lind there too, there must have been a lot of extra bailiffs on duty to keep everyone from killing each other.
    • Holmes and Det. Frank Tomlinson connected through Jesus Christ. Frank was just discovering God and the Bible, and even prayed with John. Surprisingly, John Holmes did not allow his attorneys to cross-examine Frank Tomlinson while on the stand. John respected Frank and did not want him put through the ringer or to get torn up by Mitchell Egers and Earl Hanson, I guess.
    • Earl Hanson lent John a Volkswagon van or bus after his trial and release from jail. I had read about that before, but I assumed it was a VW beetle. Other sources never stated that  it was a van.

    Not even the tip of the iceberg. Get the book!


    • localarts 10:50 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      David Lind was probably just as scared as Holmes. It’s obvious why he said he didn’t know it was Nash they were robbing. I bet Eddie affixed his stare squarely on Lind when he took the whiteness stand.

      • John 12:43 pm on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Probably so. Lind was more cantankerous and moody, accusatory at the 1990-91 trials, even calling out Diles and Nash “I never killed anyone, they did!!” (pointing at the pair). I guess by then, Nash was not as scary to him.

        • Tori 1:52 pm on March 6, 2014 Permalink

          What book john?

        • John 3:37 pm on March 6, 2014 Permalink

          John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches by Jennifer Sugar and Jill C Nelson. Another book on my list to read is Golden Goddeses, which is about some of the early female porno stars.

    • Jill C. Nelson 5:41 pm on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much, John, for the pub. You didn’t have to but it’s much appreciated. :)

    • criticextraordinaire 12:53 pm on March 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Those of us who were regs on the Lionsgate board, and then moved over to the IMDb-Wonderland board, were happy to see Jennifer and Jill put out this masterpiece, which started from humble beginnings. Not unlike its subject. :-D

    • Jill C. Nelson 8:26 pm on March 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Really appreciate your kind words, Critic. I was a bit late coming on board, but heard and read many stories about the old Lion’s Gate forum. From what I understand, it was epic. You might be interested to know that Jennifer and I have remained good friends. We plan to visit her and her family this summer. Jennifer is doing very well and will soon become a mother for the second time. I’ve told her often that her invitation to co-write “Inches” enhanced my life’s path. It changed both of our lives. We still laugh about how crazy some of that journey was. But it’s all good. ;-)

      • Tori 12:20 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Oh yes. Got the book!

  • John 8:35 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: murder of Jimmy Lee Casino   

    The Death Of L.A. Hustler Jimmy Lee Casino 

    Who are these people. Where do they come from.

    As Lee from the Starwood stated from his own experience growing up within the L.A. night life culture, the 70s and 80s in Los Angeles were filled with half-ass middle aged night club hustlers who preyed on young people to get what they wanted. History has shown that L.A. is a magnet for starstruck kids, as well as career criminals,  ex-cons, sociopaths, psychos, perverts and other less desirable types in society.

    These baby-boom aged strip club hustlers and wannabe “Mickey Mouse Mafia” guys are mostly all dead due to the profession they chose to pursue.  However, some are living on borrowed time, whether legally or physically. 

    Like the Vic Weiss and Horace McKenna murders, the murder of Jimmy Lee Casino was an unsolved cold case for many years. Whereas McKenna’s murder was solved by a hit man’s guilt, due to his confession and later cooperation with police in the trial of Mike Woods, Jimmy Lee Casino’s murder was solved by DNA. It takes a long time to process DNA from old cases, but oftentimes a hit will come back. That is what happened here.

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen…


    A 59-year-old man convicted in May of slaying the owner of a Santa Ana strip club and of raping the club owner’s girlfriend in their Buena Park condo in January of 1987 was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

    –Matt Coker, Orange County Weekly. Sept 3, 2013.

    James Lee Stockwell, aka Jimmy Lee Casino. Jimmy was a smooth-talking salesman, businessman, hustler, entrepreneur. It’s said that his murder was for unpaid debts, just like what happened to sports promoter, Vic Weiss.

    Trial for 1987 murder of Jimmy Casino to wrap up


    Nick Schou from OC Weekly tells us more about Jimmy and the Mickey Mouse Mafia, affectionately named because of their dim-witted, coke fueled crimes, as well as their operations being in proximity to the Disney theme park. The coked out 80s in Orange County were really something else:

    As reporter Nick Schou observes in his well researched article, the attempted murder of Carroll and murders of Avila and Mustang owner Jimmy Casino (real name James Lee Stockwell) were part of a string of assassinations, professional and otherwise, that occurred over a short period in the ’80s, “spotlighting the city’s status as a playground (and killing field) for shady businessmen, drug kingpins and organized crime figures affiliated with what cops dubbed the ‘Mickey Mouse Mafia,’ who reveled in Newport Beach’s glamorous lifestyle and coke-fueled nightlife scene.”

    Here’s how Schou described the hit on Casino, who possessed a three-decades-long rap sheet and heavy debts to the Mickey Mouse Mafia:

    On Jan. 1, 1987, 48-year-old Jimmy Lee Casino, the owner of the Mustang Topless Theater, a Santa Ana strip club, returned to his Buena Park home after attending a New Year’s Eve party with his 22-year-old girlfriend. As the LA Times later reported, two “masked and armed intruders were waiting. The intruders tied up and raped his girlfriend and dragged Casino downstairs. They ransacked the condo, taking jewelry, furs, credit cards and two cars.” Then they shot Casino three times in the head.

    The case went cold for decades. Then, in May 2008, Richard C. Morris Jr. was arrested in Hawaii for drunken driving and DNA evidence was taken from him. A crime database found a match to evidence collected in the Casino murder. Morris was arrested at his home in Oahu in 2008 and extradited to Orange County in connection with the shooting.

    Morris was also implicated in the murder/robbery of restaurateur, Joe Avila.

    The scene of the crime. Jimmy Lee Casino’s Buena Park condo after his murder. Note the new Rolls Royce and crime scene tape:


    • Bonnie Brae 9:06 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      You can’t collect from a corpse.

      • John 9:14 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I thought initially that this could have been two guys just wanting to home invade/rob a seemingly rich club owner for a big score. But then, after reading some of the linked articles to this case, there was a lot of connections made to the Mickey Mouse Mafia, and then recently a lot of finger pointing by those implicated. I guess in L.A., someone always wants you killed for something. McKenna or some other club owner or half-ass wise guy wanted Jimmy dead. McKenna wanted to buy out his club to add to his own empire. Jimmy Casino also lost $300+K of a dozen investors money in a chain of “Casino’s Hot Dog” stands that went belly up.

        • Bonnie Brae 9:17 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink

          Those suckers are all in Disneyland now with Ramirez.

        • Tori 12:24 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          John u know the address to this location? I could drive by and snap a couple pics. I live in Buena Park.

        • John 12:37 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          I wish! It was just a pic in an online news article.

        • Tori 7:57 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink

          The guy who was killed dad delivered my cousin

        • John 1:07 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink


    • Bonnie Brae 9:19 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Is there any chance that 300 pound Greg Diles had any ties to the MMM?

      • John 9:33 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        It was not a real tight connection of guys in an organized family, etc. I think it’s just a nickname for all the various cons and goofs who where part of the strip club and coke scene in the OC. The name stuck because of their wannabe mob desires/big man attitudes, careless killing methods, amateurish ways, and closeness to the theme park. A lot of strippers also “disappeared” or were found dead during the 80s heyday of the MMM.

      • John 9:09 am on March 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I used to golf with this guy I met on the golf course who was an asst. mgr at a strip club. Snazzy dresser, loose with cash- buying us drinks, etc…Nice guy, if you were friends with him like I was, but I could tell he wasn’t somebody you wanted mad at you. He was about 10 years older than I was, and I found out later that he died of a heart attack while at the club. Cocaine is a hell of a drug! The moral to the story is all these strip club dudes are shady as hell. I was probably golfing with someone who was a killer.

        • criticextraordinaire 9:49 am on March 9, 2014 Permalink

          There’s some sort of odd appeal to hanging out with people who live at the limits of the law. I used to hang with a guy whose street nickname was “Two Guns” and whose name came up a couple of times in regard to Hoffa’s disappearance.

          Dude was nothing but nice to me, and the job I presently have, I got through his recommendation.

  • John 11:43 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Slain Brea Man’s Ties to Mustang Club Are Probed 

    More on the Horace McKenna saga. This is a juicy and long article that explains a lot about Horace’s past… his career as a highway cop, beating up an off-duty cop at a bar in San Pedro and more. If you could say anything about Horace it would be that he was not boring to hang out with, for certain. In L.A., it seems that if you live by the sword you die by the sword (well, except for Eddie Nash).

    The initial dismissal of McKenna–remembered by associates who asked not to be named as a “tall, lanky guy in those days; sort of a goofball, a clown”–occurred at about the same time that he was arrested by Los Angeles police in connection with some sort of theft. The nature of the theft, the disposition of the case and whether it was connected to McKenna’s dismissal were not known Friday.

    The L.A. Times needed help with the wording of their crime headlines back in 1989. What a mouthful!

    Slain Brea Man’s Ties to Mustang Club Are Probed

    March 11, 1989 | MARK LANDSBAUM and TRACY WOOD | L.A. Times Staff Writers

    The flamboyant former Highway Patrol officer killed in ambush at the gate of his Brea hilltop home tried to buy the notorious Mustang Club topless bar in Santa Ana before its operator was also killed in a gangland-style shooting 2 years ago, a confidential informant told authorities.

    Buena Park police said Friday that they will investigate the alleged connection between Horace Joseph McKenna, 46, who was killed early Thursday, and Jimmy Lee Casino, operator of the Mustang Club, who was murdered on New Year’s Day, 1987.

    “It’s certainly a possibility that will have to be explored,” Buena Park Police Lt. Dick Hafdahl said. “There’s a possibility of all of the things that have occurred in and around the Mustang bar were all interrelated to McKenna.”

    The confidential informant told Los Angeles district attorney’s investigators last year that McKenna, linked by authorities to prostitution, counterfeiting, narcotics, gambling and topless bars, had approached Casino about buying the bar, according to court documents made public this week. But the informant “could offer no additional information,” according to the documents.

    Casino, an ex-convict who, like McKenna, had served a sentence at Terminal Island prison, was murdered when two intruders broke into his luxury condominium in Buena Park. After tying up his 22-year-old girlfriend, police said, the assailants shot Casino, 48, in the back of the head at close range with a small-caliber weapon.

    On Christmas Day, 1987, the Mustang Club was nearly destroyed in an arson fire. Another fire a few months later finished it off. One man has been convicted and another awaits trial for the Mustang arsons.

    While authorities have not linked McKenna to the Mustang arsons, he had threatened a different Los Angeles topless bar owner in 1978 and mentioned prior arson incidents at that club.

    “McKenna made reference to the problem (arsons) that happened a few years ago at the Wild Goose (bar) in making the . . . threats,” the informant told investigators.

    McKenna threatened that “If anything happened, it would be worse (than the arsons),” the informant said.

    Under Investigation

    At the time of his murder, McKenna was under investigation by several law enforcement agencies for conspiracy to launder money, hide assets, tax evasion, provide false returns and fraudulent loan applications in connection with his alleged hidden ownership of several Los Angeles-area nude and topless bars.

    Casino was believed by authorities to have a hidden ownership in the Mustang Club. Casino’s murder remains unsolved.

    However, two men are facing trial in Orange County for the attempted murder of William Carroll, an investor in the Mustang Club. Authorities contend that Carroll was shot three times in the head May 1, 1987, when he resisted a mob takeover of the topless bar.

    The confidential informant told Los Angeles investigators last year that McKenna and attorney Joshua Kaplan had approached Casino about buying the Mustang Club. But on Friday, Kaplan denied it.

    “It never happened,” Kaplan said. “It’s an absolute, utter falsehood. I have never represented Mr. McKenna personally in any matter ever, civil, criminal . . . personal, whatsoever.”

    “I know who McKenna (was) and I probably had two conversations with him in my life,” Kaplan added.

    Represented Club

    Kaplan said he once represented the Mustang Club when it won a court case in 1983. The case was brought by the city of Santa Ana to challenge the bar’s right to feature topless dancing.

    “I represented the Mustang Theater and I know Jimmy (Casino) had some participation in that somehow,” Kaplan said. “He was either a manager or a consultant. I know there were some allegations he” owned the bar. “I know the government has said he did.”

    Kaplan has been active in several disputes throughout Southern California involving topless bars.

    Last November, he represented prospective club owner John Morrison in an unsuccessful attempt to win Fullerton City Council approval for the establishment of a restaurant-cabaret that was to have featured topless dancers.

    Kaplan also represents the Casbah A Go-Go in La Habra, which has been battling the city over restrictions on club dancers.

    Kaplan’s name is referred to repeatedly in the McKenna investigative files unsealed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court.

    “My name seems to come up whenever people in the adult entertainment industry are contacted” by police, Kaplan said. “I’ve represented the (adult entertainment) industry for 20 years. It would be very surprising if my name didn’t come up.”

    Meanwhile, Brea police conceded Friday that they were “back to square one” in determining who killed McKenna.

    Capt. James Oman, the Brea Police Department’s chief of detectives, said his men knew nothing about McKenna’s purported ties to criminal activities and reputed ownership of a string of topless and nude bars until he read about them in the morning newspapers.

    “You’re way ahead of us at this point,” Oman told a reporter.

    McKenna’s alleged ties were detailed in warrants and affidavits released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which–along with Los Angeles and Long Beach police, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and the FBI–has been monitoring McKenna’s activities for months.

    But Oman said that until McKenna’s murder Thursday morning, Brea police “were only minorly aware of him being in town. . . . There was no clue that he was going to be murdered.”

    Oman said he had sent two of his detectives to Los Angeles County on Friday to be briefed on the district attorney’s ongoing investigation into McKenna’s past. But he said that while investigators in Los Angeles “are the ones with all the information” in the case–and he was appreciative of their help–Brea would retain control of the investigation.

    “The homicide occurred in Brea,” he said. “They’ve (Los Angeles) got enough homicides to keep them busy.”

    “It’s going to be a tough one,” said Capt. Edmund Alecks, head of investigations for the district attorney’s organized crime section. “It looks like an execution, and these things are never easy to solve.”

    Shell Casings Found

    Oman said Friday that the only physical evidence found so far in McKenna’s death are “more than 20″ 9-millimeter shell casings at the gate of McKenna’s 35-acre Carbon Canyon equestrian ranch.

    McKenna, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound body builder, apparently died instantly from multiple gunshot wounds suffered in the gangland-style ambush at his “Tara Ranch” home. The shots were fired through the rear side window of his limousine at about 12:30 a.m. as McKenna’s chauffeur, Robert Berg, 42, was returning to the car after unlocking the gated entrance to the estate.

    Berg reportedly told investigators that McKenna was asleep in the back seat at the time of the attack.

    Berg and McKenna’s 20-year-old son, Michael, said to be at the house at the time of the attack–were both questioned by police and then released pending further investigation, according to Oman.

    Court documents identify Berg as one of the alleged conspirators in the tax-fraud investigation being prepared by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. The documents allege that at least eight people conspired with McKenna and Michael Woods–himself a former highway patrolman–to skim money and hide profits from several topless and nude bars in the Los Angeles area.

    Warrants say that McKenna and Woods are believed to be the hidden owners of these bars and that police had been monitoring their alleged activities in gambling, prostitution and narcotics for some time.

    The district attorney’s office said the tax-fraud case was “extremely sensitive” because both McKenna and Woods “have maintained associations with terminated, retired and currently employed law enforcement officers.” The office said this warning was included to advise law enforcement officials that they might inadvertently reveal something to someone who knew McKenna.

    A woman at Woods’ Thousand Oaks home said Friday that he was “not available for comment,” and Oman said Friday afternoon that no attempt had yet been made to find or contact him in connection with the murder.

    “We’ll get to him when we get to him,” Oman said. Records show that Woods–along with McKenna and Daniel Fenton Sully, a man identified in the affidavits as a functionary in one of the topless bars–all served together in the California Highway Patrol in the late ’60s and early ’70s. All three were assigned as motorcycle patrolmen in the West Los Angeles area.

    Woods, 47, took a disability retirement in October, 1974, after spending his entire tour in the West Los Angeles office. Sully, 55, served in several posts before he took a disability retirement in July, 1975.

    Reached by phone at his home Thursday night, Sully denied any knowledge of illegal activity and said he “hardly knows” McKenna. He characterized the tax-fraud investigation as “a lot of misinformation,” then refused to comment further.

    Entered CHP Academy

    McKenna entered the Highway Patrol academy in June, 1967, and served in the West Los Angeles office until June, 1972. He was dismissed by superiors, but one year later, on an appeal to the state Personnel Board, had his departure reclassified as a “resignation.” CHP spokesmen said that state law prohibited them from discussing details of McKenna’s “rather extensive” personnel file.

    The initial dismissal of McKenna–remembered by associates who asked not to be named as a “tall, lanky guy in those days; sort of a goofball, a clown”–occurred at about the same time that he was arrested by Los Angeles police in connection with some sort of theft. The nature of the theft, the disposition of the case and whether it was connected to McKenna’s dismissal were not known Friday.

    In April, 1976, McKenna was arrested on suspicion of running a large prostitution ring in the Inglewood and Lennox areas. Later that same year, he was sentenced in federal court to concurrent terms of 5 and 6 years for conspiracy and passing counterfeit money.

    McKenna served 4 years at a prison camp in Arizona on the counterfeiting charges, earning a parole in 1980. Two years later, he was arrested in a San Pedro bar–owned by a former associate–on suspicion of assaulting an off-duty police officer. The charge was reduced, but McKenna was convicted of violating his parole and was sent back to the federal prison at Terminal Island for another 2 years. Released on parole in 1984, his probation ended in 1985.

    ‘First Target’

    Capt. Alecks of the district attorney’s office said the tax-fraud investigation began 2 years later, in 1987, when McKenna was selected as the “first target” in a new program to build cases against “full-time criminals.”

    Beverly Hills attorney Kaplan, who represents several figures named in the tax-fraud inquiry, said the search warrants were unsealed because of demands from himself and other lawyers “representing a number of individuals who had property seized. . . . It’s natural to be curious why the government is seizing your papers.”

    Kaplan said the conspiracy claim was fiction.

    “The prosecutor’s theory that this industry is controlled by one godfather figure, if you will–McKenna–is contrary to my experience. . . . This has never been a violence-ridden business,” he said. “The whole thing is really surprising.

    “My experience with this industry is that it’s the most disorganized industry there is, lacking any cohesion at all,” Kaplan said.

    The lawyer said his own attempts to organize nightclub owners for legal battles were failures because “the animosities exhibited between each business prohibited them to get together and do anything. If I got six owners in a room at one time, I’d get eight opinions.”

    McKenna’s mother, interviewed Friday afternoon on the porch of her modest home in the Crenshaw district, described her son as a “wonderful person. . . .

    “He was . . . a great man to his mother, his father and his family,” she said. “It’s a beautiful man they killed.”

    Times staff writers contributing to this article were Scott Harris, Eric Malnic, Penelope McMillan, Boris Yaro, Hector Tobar and Tracey Kaplan in Los Angeles, and Dianne Klein and Jim Carlton in Orange County.

    • John 12:34 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “Those considered the best may not see God in their actions,” the priest said. “Those who are considered the worst may see God in their actions.” — Priest at McKenna’s funeral.

    • Bonnie Brae 3:21 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      You know that off duty cop had it coming.

    • John 3:51 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      The Mickey Mouse Mafia. What a great name, due to their hair brained shenanigans and close proximity to Disney

    • criticextraordinaire 6:20 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Man, if only Horace, Ronnie, and Eddie had decided to work together. They coulda had an empire.

    • localarts 6:51 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      On paper that sounds like a great idea but the reality of the matter is there was only one Godfather, and that was Eddie Nash. As the highlander said…there can be only one! Besides, Eddie already had an empire.

      • criticextraordinaire 6:01 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        True, but the bad blood (to say the least) between Eddie and Ronnie pretty much crushed both of their empires. If these guys had worked together like the Five Families they could have owned the West Coast. Too bad that Johnny Wadd could not keep away from the powder, he would have otherwise been a great go-between amongst the kingpins, using his admiration if not respect. Of course… he met them all due to his dope addiction so I guess it is a non-fulfilling concept.

  • John 10:17 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    McKenna Was Not Shady, Just Flamboyant, Son Says 

    Big Mac’s son is 3″ taller than Mac. Big family! Also, Mac’s prison stint in 77-78 could be where he met Ron Launius, but that is mere speculation on my part.

    Big Mac wasn’t arrogant at all…

    As a joke, there is even an out-of-era headstone for Superman, who, according to his marker, “tried to take on Mac.” The elder McKenna was known as “Mac” to his friends.

    No Suspects in Brea Slaying : McKenna Was Not Shady, Just Flamboyant, Son Says

    March 13, 1989 | Claudia Luther | L.A. Times

    The son of a bodybuilder-businessman who was slain in a gangland style ambush Thursday said Sunday that his father was “a little flamboyant” but far from the portrait painted of him as a shady businessman who lived extravagantly.

    “The man I knew and the man the family knew was a man who liked to joke around a lot, he was really nice,” Michael McKenna, 23, said in an interview on his father’s $825,000 estate in Brea.

    Horace Joseph McKenna, 46, who had convictions for counterfeiting and parole violation, died in a hail of gunfire about 12:30 p.m. Thursday as he was sleeping in the back seat of his limousine. The ambush occurred just as McKenna’s chauffeur, Robert Berg, was pulling up to the gate at McKenna’s 40-acre estate. Berg was unharmed.

    There are no suspects in the case. McKenna will be buried Tuesday, his son said.

    The shooting occurred only hours after court records were unsealed unveiling a Los Angeles district attorney’s tax fraud investigation of Horace McKenna and a business partner, Michael Woods. Those records alleged that Horace McKenna and Woods were the hidden owners of several nude and topless bars in Los Angeles County.

    Horace McKenna, who served in the California Highway Patrol from 1968 to 1972, was convicted in 1976 of counterfeiting and convicted in 1982 of parole violation after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an off-duty police officer.

    Michael McKenna said he agreed to be interviewed because he wanted everyone to know “the true part, the way my father really was. Not the man they portrayed as some big Mafia leader.” He said his father “was as gentle as a kitten.”

    None of the court records or police reports made public said that Horace McKenna was ever linked to organized crime or the Mafia.

    Michael McKenna said that as far as he knew, his father “was not into anything that had to do with the Mafia, nothing to do with gangs . . . nothing to do with prostitution or with drugs.”

    Michael McKenna said he lives with his father’s parents in Los Angeles County. He said he had spent weekends and other time with his father but never lived with him after his parents divorced when he was a child.

    McKenna allowed a reporter and a photographer into his father’s rambling house. It is comfortable rather than elaborate, decorated with bronze statues of western scenes and stuffed animals that, according to his son, McKenna on big game ranches. It sits at the top of a green knoll in Carbon Canyon with a sweeping view of Orange County clear to Disneyland, where Michael McKenna said fireworks can be seen at night.

    As the hazy afternoon grew dimmer, McKenna showed his guests the ranch’s many other buildings, including a 20-foot gazebo and stables with 16 horses, including his father’s favorite, an American saddle horse named Lord. The horse pulled away as McKenna stroked its nose, and McKenna explained, “My Dad rode him every day, so Lord knows something is not right.”

    Just down the blacktop road is a small mock “ghost town” his father had built as an amusement for himself and his friends. The ghost town has a saloon, a jail, a general store and other businesses from an old western outpost. At the entrance to the town is a “cemetery” with “headstones” for Dead Eye Dick (“He ain’t fastest no more”) and other cowboys.

    As a joke, there is even an out-of-era headstone for Superman, who, according to his marker, “tried to take on Mac.” The elder McKenna was known as “Mac” to his friends.

    The hilly road up through the property that McKenna developed from rough acreage is peppered with Old West signs such as “Dead Man’s Curve.”

    A full 3 inches taller than his 6-foot-6 father, the younger McKenna said he used to enjoy horsing around with his dad.

    ‘A 46-Year-Old Kid’

    “We’d tear out around the house, tackle each other on the lawn or something, wrestle,” McKenna said. “He was a 46-year-old kid.”

    McKenna said his father did not drink or smoke and did not take drugs, nor were there ever any drug activities around the ranch home that he saw. He said that while his father, who was twice divorced, sometimes dated women half his age, there was no hint of a party life style.

    “People say it the way they want to say it,” McKenna said. He said his father “was a man who liked to have fun. He liked to entertain. He had all kinds of friends.” But he added, “He didn’t give parties in the sense of loud banging music with people walking around. He liked to have people up here in the daytime, go horseback riding, to walk around the ranch and just generally relax.”

    Even the brand new pool was designed for volleyball–it is 7 feet deep in the middle and shallower at each end.

    McKenna said he believes his father made his money breeding Arabian horses and from profits on the 4 Star Gym in El Segundo, which he owned. McKenna said his father also owned some apartment buildings.

    Of reports that his father had beaten his wife of 9 years, Sherry, from whom he was divorced 2 years ago, McKenna said, “Baloney. Absolute baloney.” He said he and Sherry McKenna were not close, and that he “wondered why” his father took so long to divorce her. “If she was as cold to him as she was to me, I don’t see why there wasn’t a divorce the first day after they got married.”

    The son said he saw no guns on the ranch except the shotgun his father used to shoot gophers. “I’d say out of every 10 shots, he may get one gopher, and we’d laugh about it,” McKenna said.

    ‘A Little Frightened’

    Michael McKenna said he was “a little frightened, yeah,” to be on the ranch where his father was slain.

    “I was in town for a while and I didn’t get back until dark and I had to stop and unlock the gate,” said McKenna, whose size might intimidate most intruders. “And I was petrified. I was very scared.”

    But he said that he did not fear the murderers would return for him.

    “In my heart, (I know) it was just somebody who wanted my father,” McKenna said. “Who, why–I don’t know.”

    McKenna said that in the last several months his father had been dieting on low-fat yogurt, tuna fish sandwiches and water, bringing his weight down to 265 pounds.

    He said that as he was driving to Brea after learning of his father’s death, he thought about the ranch.

    “I knew how much he loved the horses. I knew how much he loved the ranch. This was his dream. Right then and there my main concern was to keep it alive, to keep the dream alive.”

    But he said he has not figured out how he will do it. The police and federal officers took his father’s papers even before they allowed McKenna in the house, so he has no idea of what his father’s assets are, or even how he might be able to pay the ranch hands. He said he was to have started a job as a security officer, but decided to delay that until his father’s estate is straightened out.

    “There are too many unexplained questions, too much paper work,” McKenna said. He said quietly, “My father and I were really good friends. We loved each other. . . . He was there for me whenever I needed him.”

    • Brandy 10:36 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Michael McKenna passed away of a heart attack unfortunately I believe a few years ago. He was a LA radio personality I read.

    • Brandy 10:41 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I highly recommend “Dying to be a Centerfold” by Terri Lenee Peake to your blog readers. She is “Heaven” Big Mac’s ex fiancé. Also “Vice” by John Rick Baker.

      • John 11:53 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, Centerfold looks great! I just put Vice on my wishlist too, so as not to forget it.

    • Bonnie Brae 10:48 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder what LA branch Mac was in? My guess is Rampart.

      • John 11:25 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Not sure, but the next article I post only says “West LA”

      • localarts 12:29 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        McKenna was a motorcycle cop for the Burbak area.

    • John 11:26 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Mac served his time for using counterfeit money in the late 70s in Arizona.

  • John 7:36 am on March 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , mike sager   

    June, 1989 – Rolling Stone Cover “The Devil & John Holmes” 

    Also, I am looking for this gem from High Society in 1984. Image censored by me. “I Was John Holmes Cellmate! – Insider Exposes the King of Porn” I wonder what that is all about. 

    August, 1984.

    August, 1984.

    The Devil and John Holmes by Mike Sager

    Click here to read the article. I only buy Playboy, High Society, and Rolling Stone for the articles ;-)



    • kdimmick 10:00 pm on March 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I remember that issue. As far as I know the Mike Sager article was the first time the whole story of the murders was told to the world.
      Damn……Uma Thurmon was young in that picture. LOL!

    • localarts 7:43 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I still have that issue, wish I had taken better care of it. It was actually the June issue of Rolling Stone. My copy has Paul McCartney on the cover dated June 15, 1989. On the left hand side of the cover it reads:
      “To Live And Die In LA The Tragic Story Of Porn Star John Holmes” Sager did a really nice job.

      • John 8:22 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks man, I found it and replaced the cover image. Good stuff.

      • John 9:26 am on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Mike also is the first writer to mention the baking soda rip-off for $250K. If they had that type of cash, the Gang would not have needed to rob Nash. Also, what type of drug deal goes down where nobody samples the goods? If a dealer shot up the outside of Gary Fontenot’s house over $3,000 worth of crack smoked up by Dom Fragomeli, then I can imagine what angry dealers would have done to Wonderland. That electronic gate would not have saved anybody.

        • criticextraordinaire 6:03 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink

          Hitting Nash was not about money, it was about power. Ronnie’s brazen robberies were about letting everybody know that he was top dog. The dope, money, and guns were just gravy.

          Unfortunately for him, there is ALWAYS somebody bigger than you and that was his downfall.

    • localarts 12:53 pm on March 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, this is where the contract on their lives originated from. Maybe it was really 2,500? who knows. Remember David Lind was invited down to Wonderland because they needed an extra hand, business was really booming.

      I doubt very seriously the gang was broke or hard up for cash.

    • Jill C.Nelson 9:48 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “On the afternoon of Wednesday, July 1st, 1981, Eddie Nash was again consuming drugs at an alarming rate. He’d been ripped off for eight pounds of cocaine, but the Wonderland Gang hadn’t found his private stash, and now he was bubbling his glass pipe furiously. He’d sent two of his minions out to score more drugs, but they hadn’t yet returned.Two customers waited. They did hits off Eddie’s pipe, eyed the door.”

      “Thursday, July 2nd, 3:30 a.m. Sharon Holmes switched on the porch light, spied through the peephole. Christ, she thought, John. She hadn’t seen him in three months.”

      Mike Sager is an extremely gifted writer and journalist. Many years ago, after I first read this piece, I purchased his book “Super Freaks” — many of you have probably also read the book. From cover to cover, it’s a riveting, excellent collection of infamous celebrity and crime stories. The only issue either one of us had with Sager’s reconstruction of the Nash robbery and the Wonderland murders in this article is that the timeline is inaccurate. On the afternoon of July 1st when Sager has Nash sucking on a crack pipe, the murders had already been committed. Lange was the first detective at the crime scene around 4:00pm that afternoon. Likewise, according to one of Sharon Holmes’ accounts, John arrived at their house early in the morning on July 1st after the murders, not on July 2nd. I realize I am being nitpicky, but I do feel that it’s important to have accuracy particularly with timelines. At least as much as is possible based upon the information that is available.

      Apart from that, John, you do a superb job with this website. :)

      • John 10:12 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Jill for contributing. There is always more to find out, and when peripheral characters show up in the story, often their stories are worthy of investigation too. So many characters!

    • localarts 10:37 am on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Here at the Wonderland Institute of Criminal Studies, there are never any graduates, because the learning never stops!

    • localarts 8:01 am on March 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Saw a bio on Mickey Cohen last night. I remember Roger Jacobs said Nash was the biggest gangster LA had seen sense the days of Cohen. If that’s the case, I don’t believe people realize how powerful Nash really was. Anyway, I found it interesting that Cohen served time at McNeil federal prison, the same place Launius served time. I guess all roads lead to Puget Sound…

  • John 7:53 am on March 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Neighbors Ignore Victims’ Screams 

    Notice Detective Tom Lange just in front of the fire rescue man. The cop back there in casual clothes… well, it must have been his day off. To quote Bob Sousa “Is this gonna ruin my 4th of July weekend?”

    UPI. July 2, 1981.

    UPI. July 2, 1981.

    • localarts 2:38 pm on March 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Looks like the UPI has placed the wrong pic with the story. The Wonderland victims were not carried out on gurneys, more like body bags. Two people carried out the women while four individuals carried out the men.

      • John 3:22 pm on March 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t know, but I’ve seen video of a gurney wheeling out the bodies. It was in that XXXL The John Holmes Story video.

    • localarts 9:03 pm on March 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply at 2:27 two men are caring either Joy Miller or Barbara Richardson. I’m just say’in…

    • dreamweaverjenn 3:45 am on March 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Watching Wonderland as we speak. It’s 4:45 a.m. here and it’s on IFC….

  • John 4:47 pm on February 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: slave narratives   

    Tracking History From The Narrative Of A Former Slave 

    Thank God for the internet. This woman’s story was so interesting that I had to find out more.

    You may have seen the show on cable or PBS entitled “Slave Narratives”. The story below is from that project of the 1930′s. It was more or less a grant under FDR’s New Deal, in order to document the lives of elderly former slaves. Very interesting stuff.

    Minerva’s pronunciation and grammar are as they were written down by the interviewer. It’s sort of hard to read at first, but you’ll get it. For speaking to the interviewers, I think most of the people were given presents of clothing or other items. Sometimes a thank you is included for a dress or something else.

    Of course, the old slave owners seemed to have either been really bad to former slaves, or really good to them. In some cases, they were indifferent (like below), just turning them loose with no food, money or a way to live after the Civil War. Keep in mind that slaves in Texas (and most other states) did not find out about Emancipation until June 19, 1865.

    The descendants of Minerva’s owner, Lazarus Goolsbee (not spelled Goolsby) had many descendants, and you will read more about them below. I was not able to find anything on the Goolsbee Plantation or a photo of the “big house” they lived in… but many of that family are still in the general area of east Texas.

    Edgar and Minerva Bendy

    MINERVA BENDY, 83, was born a slave to Lazarus Goolsby, Henry Co. Alabama, who brought her to Texas when she was five. They settled near Woodville, where Minerva still lives.

    Red marker below… I can find nothing about a mansion on or near the property, or on the internet by any historical associations. It probably burned down 140 years ago. If it is not documented at all, it may have just been a big house and not very grandiose, as plantations go. It is also in a very remote part of east Texas (I live near Galveston) and it is the road less traveled. People only go up there to hunt deer. Jasper is where those two guys dragged that old black man to death behind their truck back in the 1990′s. The Jasper-Livingston-Beaumont triangle is bullshit. Don’t ever go there. They don’t care for outsiders in that area.

    The links in the narrative below will take you to more info on the individual.

    The site of the former Goolsbee Plantation and Cemetery.

    The site of the former Goolsbee Plantation and Cemetery.

    “My earlies’ ‘membrance was de big, white sandy road what lead ‘way from de house. It was clean and white and us chillen love to walk in de soft, hot sand. Dat in Henry County, Alabama, where I’s born and my old marster was Lazarus Goolsby and he have de big plantation with lots of nigger folks. I ‘member jus’ as good as yesterday wigglin’ my toes in dat sandy road and runnin’ ‘way to de grits mill where dey grind de meal. Dat have de big water wheel dat sing and squeak as it go ’round.

    Goolsbee Cemetery, outside of Woodville, Texas

    “Aunt Mary, she make all us little chillen sleep in de heat of de day under de big, spreadin’ oak tree in de yard. My mama have 17 chillen. Her name Dollie and my daddy name Herd.

    “I’s jus’ a little chile in dem days and I stay in de house with de white folks. Dey raise me a pet in de family. Missus Goolsby, she have two gals and dey give me to de oldest. When she die dey put me in de bed with her but iffen I knowed she dyin’ dey wouldn’t been able to cotch me. She rub my head and tell her papa and mama, ‘I’s gwine ‘way but I wants you promise you ain’t never whip my little nigger.’ Dey never did.

    I will assume the old plantation and big house were near the little family cemetery. This is Minerva’s former master’s tombstone. I guess they spelled his name right. The tombstone for one of his daughters was broken but stacked back together. A few infants who died are also buried at the cemetery.


    “I’s jus’ ’bout five year old when us make de trip to Texas. Us come right near Woodville and make de plantation. It a big place and dey raise corn and cotton and cane. We makes our own sugar and has[Pg 70] many as six kettle on de furnace at one time. Dey raise dey tobacco, too. I’s sick and a old man he say he make me tobacco medicine and dey dry de leafs and make dem sweet like sugar and feed me like candy.

    “I ‘member old marster say war broke out and Capt. Collier’s men was a-drillin’ right dere south of Woodville. All de wives and chillen watch dem drill. Dey was lots of dem, but I couldn’t count. De whole shebang from de town go watch dem.

    “Four of the Goolsby boys goes to dat war and dey call John and Ziby and Zabud and Addison. Zabud, he git wounded, no he git kilt, and Addison he git wounded. I worry den, ’cause I ain’t see no reason for dem to have to die.

    Actually, Ziby got killed… he died in a Union prison camp in Illinois in Feb, 1863. Many of their cousins and relatives died in the war too. Here’s his tombstone from Illinois:

    “After us free dey turn us loose in de woods and dat de bad time, ’cause most us didn’t know where to turn. I wasn’t raise to do nothin’ and I didn’t know how. Dey didn’t even give us a hoecake or a slice of bacon.

    “I’s a June bride 59 year ago when I git married. De old white Baptist preacher name Blacksheer put me and dat nigger over dere, Edgar Bendy, togedder and us been togedder ever since. Us never have chick or chile. I’s such a good nuss I guess de Lawd didn’t want me to have none of my own, so’s I could nuss all de others and I ‘spect I’s nussed most de white chillen and cullud, too, here in Woodville.

    See more of the family history:

    The Goolsbee Family Cemetery

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