GOD’S GOLDEN BACKYARD Wonderland Avenue is located in…
GOD’S GOLDEN BACKYARD
Wonderland Avenue is located in Laurel Canyon, a pass between Hollywood and Studio City in the San Fernando Valley. Starting in the mid-60’s, it became a popular area to live in, especially by the new, young and free-spirited counterculture populace, due to its then-inexpensive rents and picturesque, rustic vibe. The hippie, back-to-nature rhythm was born here. By the end of the decade, almost every L.A. band and record label had members or employees living throughout the canyon, some in communal enclaves, and some in more anonymity if so desired. Pamela Des Barres, celebrated ‘Super Groupie’ and author of “I’m With The Band” described it then as “God’s Golden Backyard”. Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Love, The Mamas & Papas, The Doors and Frank Zappa (who lived in the late Western actor hero Tom Mix’s log cabin on the corner of Laurel and Kirkwood, which leads to Wonderland Avenue) all called Laurel Canyon home. But by the mid-70’s, it was beginning to be populated not only by musicians and creative types, but dealers of hard drugs, specifically heroin and cocaine. By the end of the decade, freebase cocaine reared its ugly head and became the drug of choice for many. According to David Crosby (whose expertise in such pharmacology cannot be disputed) freebase is/was the easiest drug to get hooked on as well as hardest to kick. John C. Holmes was one of those caught up in its le dernier cri (mania/craze) and vice-like grip.
The ‘Four On The Floor” murders – July 1, 1981
Gregory Diles, over 300 pounds of drug-addicted, gun packing madness was Eddie Nash’s bodyguard. Eddie probably couldn’t have made a better choice. As long as there was enough cash, pussy and ‘base around, Diles was happy to do his job conscientiously. And in Eddie Nash’s biosphere, there was an abundance of all three.
Then there were “The Wonderland Gang”, which included Ron Launius and his wife Susan, David Lind and his girlfriend, Barbara Richardson, Joy Miller and her boyfriend Billy DeVerell. All were involved in drug dealing, theft and fencing stolen goods. Less glamorous. Naturally, Holmes got involved with them as well, especially when his line of credit with good ole Eddie Nash got to a point where he wasn’t always so welcome. He also now owed them some serious bread.
DeVerell and Lind confronted John to pay them back, which of course, he couldn’t. But before things got uglier than they already were, these three geniuses cooked up a scheme. John would go to Eddie Nash’s house (his good friend, remember?), and during his visit, he would leave a sliding door un-locked, enabling the “gang” to get in and rob the place blind; they would split the booty with Holmes later. Incredibly, it actually worked. In late June, 1981, the Wonderland gang arrived at Nash’s house, tortured and tormented Nash and Diles (no small feat in itself), and stole about $100,000 in cash, $150,000 in jewelry as well as, of course, a large cache of drugs. And we’re not talkin’ about weed, here.
Nash got a little cranky about all these shenanigans, and it didn’t take him too long to figure out that John was involved. After getting a hold of Holmes’ address book and threatening to kill (at least) all his family members unless he told what he knew, John did. It probably saved his life, which, as it turns out, wasn’t worth much anyway.
On July 1, 1981, LA police detectives arrived at 8763 Wonderland Avenue. What they found was the most gruesome murder scene since the Manson murders 12 years earlier. The bodies of four people, Ron Launius, William DeVerell, Barbara Richardson and Joy Miller, were found bludgeoned to death. A fifth victim, Susan Launius, was found barely alive.
It’s a relatively simple deduction that Nash probably sent his head pitbull, Diles, along with a few pipe-wielding associates to go to Wonderland, not necessarily just to retrieve whatever stolen money and goods that might have remained, but to attain serious…retribution. They indeed did. Holmes was apparently taken along for the ride with the purpose of easy entry, but mainly to show him what could have happened to him.