The story of porn actor John C. Holmes and his role in the Wonderland murders.

John Holmes was one of America's first porn stars, reaching the pinnacle of his fame before his story took a dark turn. As drug addiction consumed him, John found himself in the midst of a drug war that would end in a brutal attack that would become known as the Wonderland murders.

Broken Limelight Celebrity True Crime Podcast Episode 60: John Holmes & The Wonderland Murders. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube, or anywhere podcasts are available.

A timeline of the life and career of pornographic actor John C. Holmes and the events that lead to the notorious Wonderland Murders

John Holmes's early life, meeting Dawn Schiller, and their descent into addiction.

John Holmes’ Early Life

John Holmes was known as the “King of Porn” and lived a life of excess of debauchery. But his world took a sinister turn when he became entangled with a drug-dealing group called the Wonderland Gang. This is the story that inspired the 1997 film Boogie Nights. Later, in 2003, the film Wonderland was released, based on this story as well.

John Holmes was born on August 8th, 1944 on the kitchen table of his grandparent’s country home in Pickaway County, Ohio. He was the youngest of 4 kids born to Mary June Holmes. His father was a guy who wouldn’t stick around, Carl Estes– but John wouldn’t know about him until 1986, just a couple of years before his death. Mary had been married to a man named Edgar Holmes, who was the father of her 3 oldest children. Mary and Edgar would marry and divorce three times, and judging by the dates of their wedding certificates, it seems that John was born during a gap when they were separated. Mary was 17 years old when she married Edgar the first time, while Edgar was 35 years old and had already been divorced. John’s birth certificate does not list a father but his name was listed as John Estes. Mary would eventually get back together with Edgar and change John’s last name to Holmes. John grew up believing that Edgar was his biological father.

Mary was a devout Southern Baptist, and Edgar was a devout alcoholic. He would yell and fight a lot, and was said to come home so wasted that he would fall over the childrens’ beds and vomit all over the sleeping children. Mary and Edgar would split up for the final time when John was around 3 or 4 years old, and Mary went to live with another woman and her kids, who were in a similar financial situation. Mary eventually met another man named Harold and married him when John was around 8 or 9. Harold bought a house for the family and things started to look up for the family. Harold didn’t drink, but he was under a lot of pressure financially, now that he had a wife and 4 new kids. 

Eventually, Harold started taking his anger out on the kids. John often took the brunt of it because he was the smallest. Then Mary got pregnant again and had another boy, named David, when John was 9. At this point, Harold totally turned on Mary’s oldest 4 kids and only cared about David. It was said that Harold might have been manic-depressive. He would eventually stick his hand in a meat grinder in order to start collecting disability. 

Harold would continue beating on John into his teenage years until John was about 16. Harold backhanded him off a chair and across a room, and John got up and decked him, saying “touch me again and I’ll kill you.” John then decided to leave for the army at 16 with his mom’s permission. 

John was honorably discharged from the army at 19, and then decided to move to California to start a new life. He tried out a few different jobs, including working as an ambulance driver, where he met his first wife, Sharon, who was studying to be a nurse. John was very possessive of Sharon from the very start. He insisted on being the only one that worked in the beginning, and refused to let Sharon meet anyone he worked with. But Sharon was a true ride-or-die and would stick by John’s side throughout all of the terrible things he’ll go on to do in his life. John and Sharon wanted to have kids in the beginning but would suffer through 3 miscarriages, which Sharon considered to be a sign from God. She started secretly taking birth control.

As an adult, John was very health conscious. He took a lot of vitamins and never drank or used drugs. I’m guessing this was because he saw the effect alcohol had on his stepfathers. John was seemingly an intelligent guy, but he may have felt self-conscious about not having a complete education.

Around 1967, John was told about doing short pornographic films. Pornography wasn’t legal yet in the early 60’s, so John began doing nude photographs and nude dancing. According to John, he was at a poker parlor and went to use the bathroom, when another guy caught a glimpse of John’s 13 inch penis and told him that he should consider doing porn. Then a girl who lived next door to him asked him if he’d like to make $100 to participate in a stag film. John would be the first hardcore porn star. These early films would be the first films where you could actually see penetration.

One day, Sharon came home from work and found John in the bathroom measuring his penis. He expressed to her that he wanted to start doing pornographic magazines and movies. As it turned out, he had already been doing it for a while but Sharon wouldn’t find out for a long time. Sharon was appalled, she just wasn’t into the idea of her husband doing porn. She told John how she felt about it and was like “well I’m sure you’re not asking for permission. You’re going to do what you want, right?” And John was like “Yup. And you can’t be uptight about this.” That was something Sharon would hear often throughout their marriage. From then on, John and Sharon were no longer romantic. They remained married and continued living together, but it was pretty much platonic. She continued cooking and cleaning for him and sleeping in the same bed, but she felt she could no longer have a physical relationship with him.

John continued making his films. He was said to have been good at his job. His most useful talent wasn’t the size of his member, but rather his ability to cum on command. But since porn was illegal, producers could be arrested for pimping and pandering. On some occasions, John would actually go out and procure young women to participate in these films with him. One time, he got caught and was arrested. To avoid facing felony charges, John agreed to be an informant against the porn industry. He would actually tell the cops to wait outside while they filmed and once they were done, he’d come out and give them their violation. According to Sharon, John seemed proud to be helping the police, almost as if he felt like one of them.

In 1974, John started part-time living with a woman named Gilda Grant, who was a porn actress who John was dating. He was still living with Sharon on-and-off, and Gilda never had John’s phone number the entire time they were together. It seemed that nobody had John’s number– he gave everyone the number to his answering service to leave him messages. In any case, it’s said that if John ever loved anyone, it was Gilda. She eventually found out that he was married and dumped him.

In 1971, Sharon’s employer gave her the opportunity to manage an apartment complex in Glendale. John put a lot of work into fixing the place up and Sharon allowed him to co-manage with her. In 1976, John’s younger brother, David, would go live with them at the Glendale apartments. David was married at this point, but he had epilepsy and their mom always insisted that John help look out for him. Sharon didn’t seem fond of David, as she says he was the one who turned John onto marijuana. John actually didn’t do any drugs before about 1973. He tried to be really healthy after he saw the effect that alcoholism had on his father. But he did start smoking pot with David, which would eventually escalate to mushrooms, pills, etc., and Sharon was not down for that in her home, so they gave David and his wife their own unit.

It was also in 1976 that John would meet a new tenant named Dawn Schiller. Big trigger warning here, because we’re going to take a little detour to talk about Dawn. Dawn is a fifteen year old girl with a crappy life, and she’s about to become “John’s Girl”.

John’s Girl, Dawn Schiller

Dawn Schiller had it rough growing up. She was born in 1961 and had a younger sister, Terry, and a younger brother. Her father, Wayne, was absent for most of her younger years, as he was in the military and served time in Vietnam. When she was younger, Dawn remembered her father doting on her and treating her like his little princess. While he was gone, he rarely communicated with his family, except when he needed something– like when he called and said he was stuck in jail in Thailand and needed money to get out. Dawn’s mother, Edda, rushed to send him all her savings, only to go months and months without hearing from him again. Meanwhile, Edda was struggling to raise the kids in Florida, in a pretty dangerous neighborhood where the girls had to learn to fight to defend themselves. Sadly, when their father returned home, he wasn’t the same loving man Dawn remembered.

Wayne returned home when Dawn was 15, and the whole family was so excited to have him back. Dawn’s mother, Edda, even dressed up all sexy and ready to take him to the bedroom. Unfortunately when they got to the bedroom, he broke the news that he wanted a divorce.

Dawn desperately tries to connect with her dad and gets the vibe that he’s become a huge hippie, and in conversation they realize that they both enjoy smoking pot, and so Dawn tries to impress him by rolling a joint and getting high with him. Dawn’s sister, Terry, is about a year younger, so she joins in. Their brother is only like 7 at this point and the poor kid also desperately tries to get his dad’s attention. Before he has a chance to move out, he starts getting an intense pain between his eyes and gets really sick. It turns out he has a tumor in his forehead. Edda is a good woman so she takes him to the hospital, but straight up tells him that maybe this is his karma for abandoning his family for so long. He had surgery to get it removed but would be in pain for a while and had to take a lot of medication and rewrap this huge bandage on his face every day.

After Wayne gets home from the hospital, he starts planning his exit from the home. But before he goes, he asks the kids “so who wants to come with me and who wants to go with Mom?” Essentially tearing the family apart. Dawn and Terry, these poor girls, desperately missed their father who was now this super cool hippie stoner, so they opted to go with their father. They likely also felt guilty leaving him alone in his condition. Edda was heartbroken, of course. Their younger brother, through tears, chose his mom.

The plan was to take the girls across the country to California. He told Dawn that he had actually married another woman, Pen-Ci, in Thailand, and they had a baby boy named Jack. So he now had to establish a new place for them to live with him. Dawn’s little sister, Terry, ended up running away before it was time to move. It seemed like she wasn’t connecting with her father and she really didn’t feel wanted. So 14 year old Terry secretly went to live with her 18 year old boyfriend, Juan. Dawn desperately searched for her and when she found her she insisted that she was coming to California. Terry agreed, but only if Juan could come too. And they convinced their dad into letting Juan come by insisting that he had lots of weed to share, and that was enough for Wayne.

So they hop into a car and head to California. But it turns out that Wayne doesn’t actually have a plan on where to go when he gets there. So they drive across the country over a few days and start running out of weed. They decide, maybe they can pick up a hitchhiker who looks like they smoke weed, and maybe they’ll get lucky. As they get into California, they pick up a guy named Marty, and he does indeed have weed– though he’s a little skeptical about smoking it in the car with teenagers– but Wayne just shrugs it off. So they all get high and Wayne casually mentions that they just drove across the country and have nowhere to go now. Marty’s headed to his girlfriend’s house in Glendale and he’s sure she won’t mind letting them stay with her.

They arrive at Marty’s girlfriend’s house, her name is Harriet. Harriet says she doesn’t mind letting them stay at her one-bedroom apartment for a while, but she needs to make sure it’s alright with the apartment manager. She calls up her manager, and that’s when John Holmes enters the apartment and meets Dawn Schiller for the first time. John was 32 at this point. He takes one look at her and asks “how old are you?” She answers “Fifteen. Why?” and he dramatically grabs his chest to act disappointed and says “Mm, mm, mmp. Too bad!” She’s like “What?” and he says “Too young!” Right away, Dawn thinks he’s a creep. John wasn’t a particularly attractive guy. He was tall and skinny and had a big afro and the stereotypical 70’s pornstar mustache. He was kind of gangly and goofy looking. She wasn’t into it at first. Dawn and Terry actually laughed at him a lot for his appearance and the way he would dress. They had no idea he was famous, as they didn’t watch porn. But Harriet always seemed to get nervous and fan-girl around John, so Dawn asked her one day what that was about. Harriet took her into a secret room where she kept a shrine full of posters of John Holmes, or as he was known in the porn industry “Johnny WADD”. These were graphic posters and Dawn at 15 had never been exposed to this kind of thing, so she was left in shock.

As time went on, Dawn, Terry, and Juan were more and more left on their own. Marty left the house to hang out with another girlfriend he had on the side, and Wayne started hooking up with Harriet. They were getting high together all the time and pretty much told the kids that they’d have to earn their keep. John was kind enough to offer them jobs around the complex, cleaning up and doing gardening work. It also became glaringly clear that nobody was taking care of these kids, or even feeding them. Wayne didn’t seem to give a shit about them, so they were bored and lonely. So John started coming by and bringing them snacks and pot, and offering to take them out of the house to go camping, to the beach, or to the movies. He was nice to them and they all started warming up to him.

Terry and Juan would end up moving into another apartment in the complex. They made friends with the original tenant who invited them to live with him, and then he moved out and left it to them. This left Dawn all alone with her father and Harriet. Desperately lonely and feeling like a burden, she spent as much time as she could at Terry and Juan’s place.

John would check up on Dawn more and when the school year started, he knocked on her door to make sure she was awake on time for school. She started warming up to him, as he was the only person looking out for her and who seemed to care that she existed. He was checking in on Terry and Juan too, who Wayne had completely abandoned. He told Terry that now that she and Juan are living on their own, she needs to take care of herself. The girls avoided asking their father for anything out of fear of imposing. Eventually Juan would get a job at a burger joint and they’d all cross their fingers for him to bring leftovers home from work.

John invites the kids to go to the beach and they spend all day waiting for him. He shows up way too late and tells them they can go tomorrow. The kids are all disappointed when John says “but wait, I have some errands to run now! Who wants to come?” They hop into his car and he drives them around Hollywood. The kids are mesmerized by the bright lights, when they notice a huge lit sign that reads John C. Holmes, XXX Double Feature: Mitchell Brothers’ Autobiography of a Flea. All Night Long. And then reality sets in for Dawn: John is a pornstar, he’s “Johnny WADD”. John gives them a little tour of Hollywood and takes them to the Walk of Fame before taking them all home and promising to pick them up bright and early in the morning to head to the beach.

In the morning, John picks the kids up for the beach, but on the way there he tells them he needs to stop and pick up his messages from his answering service. He gets his messages and when he gets back in the car, he hands Dawn the stack of messages and asks her to put them in his briefcase, making her feel a little special. She sees a woman’s name on the message and gets jealous, but she tells herself “snap out of it, he’s married and you’re just a kid.” Terry was very uncomfortable to find out that John is a pornstar and tells Dawn that something feels off, and says “He’s trying to get close to you.” But Dawn says “I know Terry, but I can handle myself.”

They start walking to the beach and when they get there they realize that it’s a nude beach. Terry’s pissed. John acts like it’s no big deal and undresses, and then Juan tries to act like a cool, grown-up guy, so he undresses as well. Dawn decided to buckle down and remove her shorts and tank top, revealing a bathing suit. But John says “you’ll get tan lines.” Dawn was nervous but she also kind of wanted to seem brave and mature, so she buckled down and undressed.

They all sunbathe for a while, Terry still fully clothed and uncomfortable. Then John asked Dawn if she wanted some lotion. She’s nervous, but she says “yeah, sure.” and tells herself it’s no big deal. He applied the lotion from her back to her legs as if it was no big deal, so she tried to copy his casual attitude. Then he says “Me too!” and hands her the bottle of lotion. She was repulsed by this old guy’s body but was trying to act cool.

They sunbathe for a little while longer and John asks Dawn if she wants to go over where they’re doing body-painting. Again, Dawn was trying to act super cool but really she was mortified that they were about to stand up and get a glimpse of each other’s naked bodies. They go and get their bodies painted and nobody questions their age difference, or the simple fact that there is a nude child at the beach. But they get their bodies painted and giggle like children, and then Juan grabs the camera to take a picture. He tells them “let’s see a pose!” John sweeps Dawn into his arms and cradles her up against his body. After the picture, John abruptly put her down and turned to walk into the ocean. Dawn was like “why’d he go into the water?” and Juan said “I bet I know.”

After this beach trip, John would continue to invite the kids on errands and stuff. He seemed to get excited when Dawn would get home from school and look for odd jobs or errands they could do together. He’d also take her to Hollywood and places where fans would ask him for his autograph. Dawn noticed that John would act angry and hurt if she came home late, like if she went to hang out with friends after school, and he would pull back and stop treating her warmly for a few days. At this point, he wasn’t really cruel to her. He was just letting her know that he felt hurt. Dawn didn’t have a lot of friends at school to begin with. She was really lonely and John made her feel like she mattered to him. She didn’t like feeling like she hurt him.

One day, she goes over to Terry’s apartment and Terry starts grilling her about what she thinks about John. She’s like “he’s always over here asking about you.” Dawn’s like “he’s too old!” But Terry says “he’s really not that old, Dawn.” Then Dawn’s like “well he’s married!” and Terry tells her “actually it’s not like that. They only live together but they’re really just friends. He told me.” Dawn’s caught off guard, and then admits “ok, he’s kind of cute. And really nice. And a lot of fun.” Then John reveals himself to be in the room, eavesdropping the entire conversation. He comes out and plants an intense kiss on Dawn’s lips. It turns out that John gave Terry a Snickers bar to get her to have this talk with Dawn. John would often use Terry to make Dawn feel more at ease, and he would give Terry Snickers bars to get her to let her guard down a little. Remember, these girls were always starving.

From then on, John and Dawn flirt heavily. When John would go visit the girls, he’d bring Dawn gifts, like a rose, or blouse, or a giant stuffed animal. He would purposefully sit next to her and hold her hand, open doors for her, or kiss her hand. He was love-bombing her and she was overwhelmed with the admiration he was showering her with. Their bond grows stronger and they both seem to be anxious to be intimate with each other for the first time.

Dawn is still a virgin at this point, but John has had sex with like, thousands of people by now. John has told many tales about when he lost his virginity. He has said that he lost it to a childhood girlfriend when he was 9, and he’s also said he lost it to a friend of his mother’s at age 12. Either way, he’s more experienced than Dawn is, and she probably has no idea what to expect.

John asks Dawn if she wants to go to the beach with him, and Dawn says “yes.” He asks her to make love to him, and she says “yes.” Dawn thinks “he really likes me now.” They get high together and then John starts… making moves. Dawn has no idea what she’s even supposed to feel. John gets on top of her and covers her with his body, and Dawn can’t move from underneath him. She whimpers and he whispers in her ear, “trust me.” She closed her eyes and took the pain.

Remember, John’s dick is reportedly 13 inches long and the width of a forearm, and this is her first time. Dawn spent the next 3 days in bed, writhing in pain and bleeding when she pees. She tells her dad she has cramps and can’t go to school, but Harriet could tell something was off, because she became icy with John, and took Dawn to the doctor. It turned out she had a bladder infection and was prescribed antibiotics. After a few days, John brought her a teddy bear and ring with her birthstone, and she melted. Nobody had ever given her jewelry before, and she was overwhelmed, trying not to cry. In her head, the ring was proof that he really liked her. They continued a romantic relationship and John would call her beautiful and make her feel special and loved. In her book, Dawn said “I don’t tell him that I’m scared when we’re together like that, and I get good at hiding the pain.” Dawn fell in love with John and believed he loved her too. She began to feel like she needed him and his love, and couldn’t live without it.

One day, Dawn was hanging out at Terry’s house when they heard John and Sharon fighting in their home. Glass was shattering and John was heard yelling “Sharon! Sharon! Stop” followed by loud crashing, and then Sharon screaming “John! E-nough!” Then the door slammed and Sharon stormed out, got in her car, and furiously drove off.

According to Sharon, she and John only ever had 2 big fights. The first was a time when they got into an argument, and John put up his fist, paused, and punched a hole in the wall. Sharon told him that if he did that again, he might wake up with a skull fracture from a frying pan. The second time was after Dawn started living in the apartments. Apparently Harriet had told Sharon that John was spending a little too much time with the girls and that she should do something about it. So Sharon was like “I don’t know what was perceived or whatever, but somebody made a complaint about this.” John was extremely defensive and started yelling at Sharon, which was totally out of character. He had never raised his voice to her before. Sharon says that her temper got the better of her and she took a 200-pound bookcase and threw it five feet across the room, where it broke everything on his desk, giving him a black eye and cutting his head in the process.

John was in shock. Things were tense for a couple of days. Dawn was panicking, thinking “Sharon must know about us” and worrying she was going to call the cops. John disappeared for a day or so because he was frantically looking for Sharon. Sharon was fuming. She went to a mall and just walked around for a few hours until John found her and they returned home.

Sharon still didn’t know the extent of the relationship between John and Dawn, and Dawn didn’t truly understand the relationship John had with Sharon either. Sharon treated Dawn the same way she treated the other tenants.

Dawn Schiller Moves in with John Holmes & His Wife, Sharon

After Dawn returned from her beach trip with John, her father informed her that he got a new place in Riverside and Pen-Ci was flying out to be with them. He was like “Harriet doesn’t know, so don’t say anything. I told her you want to go back to Florida to be with your mom and I have to take you.” Dawn asks “What about Terry?” and Wayne shrugged and said “she’s with Juan now. She made her decision before we left Florida.” He did tell her they were leaving, and Terry and Juan ended up making their way back to Florida.

Dawn goes to Riverside with her dad for a while, but she’s missing John the entire time. After a few weeks, Wayne decides they’re all going to move back to Florida. Dawn gets in contact with John and they make a plan for his brother and sister-in-law to pick her up and let her stay with them until another apartment opens up, but she’d have to get a job and be ready to live on her own. She tells her dad she doesn’t want to go back to Florida, she wants to go back to Glendale and live on her own. He tells her “Ok. If that’s what you want, Dawn. More power to you.”

Dawn dropped out of school and got a job in the medical field and rented one of the apartments from Sharon and John. Sharon was really kind to Dawn. She saw that she was bone-thin, so she would intentionally make extra food and bring it to Dawn, which eventually turned into inviting Dawn over to her and John’s home for meals. Sharon and Dawn became friends and John was happy about it because he knew where Dawn was. When Dawn was at school or work, he would often accuse her of cheating on him. Sharon kind of took Dawn under her wing. She was the one who encouraged Dawn to apply for her job at a hospital, and she also taught her how to cook and do things around the house, like file John’s things. Sharon made sure she and John took care of Dawn. They bought her a bike so she wouldn’t have to walk to work, and a little chihuahua puppy that she named Thor.

Dawn hung out at their house a lot and after a while, they invited her to move into the spare bedroom in their home. John was out late working all the time so Sharon and Dawn hung out and kept each other company. Also, This was the late 70’s in California, so there was also high anxiety because of serial killers that were active in the area at the time, like the Hillside Strangler, the Trash Bag Murderer and the Golden State Killer.  

Sharon still wasn’t aware that John and Dawn were a couple. I think that just as she had taken Dawn in as part of the family, she must’ve assumed, for a while, that John was close to Dawn for the same reason– he was being protective of her. He had always acted like he was just giving Dawn work to do because she was broke and on her own, and he would tell Dawn to keep the relationship private so as to not embarrass Sharon. John would often tell Sharon to teach Dawn how to do the stuff she would normally do, like respond to a business letter or how to do the accounting. In hindsight, Sharon realized that he was basically grooming Dawn to take her place.

Sharon said by 1978, she figured out that she and Dawn were having separate relationships with John. She tried to show Dawn that John was nothing special, though she could see that Dawn would do anything for him.

While Dawn and Sharon were at home, John would have numerous affairs. Most notable was Julia St. Vincent, a 17 year old girl who started dating John around 1977. Julia said that John would stay the night at her house and leave every morning around 3-4AM. John and Julia did acid together once, and John secretly put extra acid in her food. Then he would spoon feed it to her– something he enjoyed doing with or without drugs. Julia said that he was toying with her, and she looked up to him like a fatherly figure.

Julia said that after he got her way more fucked up on acid than he was, he started messing with her head and talking about God and the stars and shit.

“On acid, you take things literally. You believe whatever, it’s like being in a hypnotic spell. Then he got up and got mad. He said “Don’t you know who I am?” I took that to mean that he’s, like God, or something. I think he was trying to tell me, “I’m just a guy.” He was trying to tell me this, but it was bad timing. So it ended up fucking with my head. Then he did some weird shit, we’re talking psychopathic. He told me that I wouldn’t remember a thing about what I’d just heard and he told me that if I did, he wouldn’t believe me.” According to Julia, Dawn found out about her relationship with John and she and Julia tried to confront John about it. John was pissed at Dawn for sneaking up on him, but then they ended up coming back to stay with Julia for a while and apparently, the two women began a little relationship of their own, which may or may not have been at John’s urging. This lasted until one day Julia came home to find her home destroyed and abandoned by Dawn and John.

Julia would later go on to create the documentary Exhausted: John C. Holmes, The Real Story.
Exhausted is a self-serving softball “documentary” about John C. Holmes, who was the biggest star in the adult film industry in two ways. He was the most famous, and he was just the biggest where it really counts in that business, about 13 inches worth. Exhausted: John C. Holmes, the Real StoryDirected by Julia St. Vincent.

John Holmes’ Cocaine Addiction

It’s believed John began using cocaine around 1975 or 1976. He was having trouble maintaining his energy levels and he felt it helped him perform better on set. He got Dawn hooked on the drug too. By 1978, John was heavily addicted and freebasing cocaine regularly, which is where you cook it with baking powder into a rock and smoke it through a pipe. It’s super potent. By this point, he was an international star. The problem was that his drug use was getting in the way of his work. He never seemed to have any money, and he seemed to be disintegrating. He gained a reputation for spending a lot of time in the bathroom doing drugs, and also for stealing anything and everything that was left out around him. Eventually, John had a hard time getting, well, hard, because of the cocaine. Pretty soon, John was just a goofy coke-head with a big dick. He was a party trick– people would see him on an elevator and say “You’re John Holmes! Can I see your dick?”

As bad of a person as John was before, the cocaine really kicked him into high gear. He started beating the shit out of Dawn and pimping her out for drug money. He also constantly told her that her family abandoned her because they don’t care about her, so any time she thought about leaving him, she legitimately thought she had nowhere to go. By now she’s about 17.

Dawn started noticing jewelry and gifts that John had given her going missing. Sharon’s things started going missing too. John was taking them and selling them for money to buy cocaine. From 1980 to 1981, John had charged $48,000 to their credit cards to televisions and jewelry and stuff that he would sell for drug money. He became like a kleptomaniac. Anywhere he went, he would start eyeballing cars in parking lots or expensive computers that he could potentially steal.

At first, John was careful about the abuse so that Sharon didn’t catch on to their relationship. But one day, he waited until Sharon went to bed and Dawn had to lock herself in the bathroom to escape him. He started beating on the door until she could see it coming off its hinges. So she took a bottle of pills that she found and downed the entire thing. John eventually got to her and made her throw up, just as she started fading away. When she woke up, Sharon was pissed at her. She wasn’t sure if Sharon figured out their relationship at this point, or if John had fabricated some cover story. Sharon wrote Dawn a letter telling her that as a nurse, she couldn’t believe that Dawn would value her life so little to try to end it. She was like, offended. And then John convinced Dawn that Sharon didn’t want anything to do with her, and that it was her own fault.

Dawn and John ended up moving out and going from motel to motel. After Dawn tried to take her own life, John wouldn’t let her out of his sight for a while. He helped his brother David open up a little shop and made Dawn work in it, and then would have David report back to him anytime she left for lunch or anything. Increasingly possessive and paranoid from the drugs, he constantly accuses Dawn of sleeping with someone else and beats the shit out of her with every accusation. He once tore up all her journals where she wrote poetry. She wrote poems for her father and for John, but he found them and assumed they were for another guy. He knew when she loved something, and he would purposely take that thing and destroy it.

One day, John and Dawn get caught with drugs at a motel and John gets arrested. Dawn is terrified, and John tells her to call a guy named Eddie Nash, who Dawn only knew as a bad fucking guy who you don’t want to mess with. Nash would invite people to his house and then have them wait in a room with drugs and jewelry and shit easily accessible, and he would test them to see if they took anything. He had two-way mirrors in his house so he could watch his guests closely.

Eddie Nash was a business owner and well known heroin and cocaine dealer. He owned a lot of clubs in LA and was rumored to have ties to politicians and the police department. He was also heavily addicted to freebasing cocaine. Eddie met John at one of his clubs and was impressed by his celebrity. He would let John come over to his fancy house and give him drugs in exchange for introducing him to porn actresses. They were buddies, and Eddie called John “brother”. Up until John’s arrest, Dawn was John’s best kept secret. She had been outside of Eddie’s house before when John was picking up drugs, but he always made her stay quiet and hide under blankets. John always told her that she needed to stay away from Eddie because he was incredibly dangerous and could kill her and dump her in the desert. Dawn, terrified, called Eddie Nash and told him that John needed him to bail him out of jail. He does, and then John tells Dawn that they owe Eddie. He reminds Dawn often that they owe Eddie in order to justify him doing drug runs and eventually, pimping her out. 

John beats Dawn badly and often enough that he’s broken her ribs and made her black out. One time he pinned her down and stuck his thumbs into the corners of her eyes and threatened to pluck her eyes out. It gets so bad that Dawn often thinks he’s straight up going to kill her, so one day she escapes him and wearing only a nightshirt and sandals, runs into a 7-eleven, freaking out. She runs behind the counter and hides behind the clerk, crying “help me, he’s gonna kill me! He’s after me!” Meanwhile, John is crouching outside behind a car. There’s a young couple in the store who offer to help her, but she says she doesn’t want to call the police because they’ll find out about the drugs and the prostitution she’s been involved in. So she asks them to take her to Sharon’s house, and the couple and the clerk make a barrier around Dawn and get her into the couple’s car without John seeing.

The couple leaves her at Sharon’s house after she insists that Sharon’s like a mom to her and she’ll be ok from here. But Dawn knocks and knocks and Sharon doesn’t open the door. She knocks and knocks and knocks, but times goes by and she’s freezing. Then she stops and thinks, “what am I doing here? Sharon doesn’t want me here. I need to go back to John.”

Dawn heads back to the road and starts hitchhiking. She gets picked up by a Hispanic man in a cream-colored Chrysler. She notices that he’s drunk and instantly gets the vibe that he doesn’t like her, but he agrees to take her where she needs to go. Except when they get on the freeway, Dawn sees that he’s not taking her where he says he is. She sneakily holds the lock to the door between her fingers just in case he tries to lock her in, and sure enough, he does. She asks him where they’re going and he grabs her throat and tells her to shut up. She sees this dark look in his eyes and thinks– “he doesn’t want to just hurt me, like John. He wants to kill me.” She begs for her life and tells him she’ll do anything he wants, hoping he’ll stop the car. He eventually does stop the car, and he thinks he has her trapped. But she opens the door and jumps out and starts running. She runs as fast as she can and then turns to look back and sees the guy is chasing after her. Desperate, she runs in front of a car. An elderly couple opens their door and lets her in– they saw the guy running after her. 

The three make it to the police and make a report. By the way, I’ve tried figuring out if this was a prolific serial killer or abductor or rapist, and I can’t figure it out. Please email me if you have a clue who this might have been.

The police ask Dawn where she can take them, and since she has no family nearby, she asks them to take her to John. When they get there, the police tell John everything. He thanks them and then he and Dawn go inside. As soon as Dawn opens her mouth to speak, John scalds her to shut up and begins striking her over and over again. He says to her “You were asking for it, weren't you? You wanted him to rape you. You little whore.”

Dawn’s little chihuahua, Thor, started growling at John, trying to protect Dawn. John flung the dog across the room and into a wall. Thor and Dawn melt onto the floor in a puddle. John kicks and kicks until Dawn’s ribs break. 

Sex Trafficking

On Christmas Day, Dawn starts to feel a little bit better from the beating she took. John tells her that Eddie Nash wants to meet her. He told Eddie that Dawn is his niece, and he lets him have her for a night in exchange for drugs. Unfortunately, the next morning when John goes to pick her up, John is only given half the amount of drugs he was promised, and assumes Eddie was unhappy with Dawn for some reason. He scalds her and hits her, and makes her go back to do it a second time a few days later, which turns out to be her birthday.

One day, Dawn tells John she wants to try calling her mom and seeing if she can go back home. She pleads with him, saying she can’t go with him anymore. John scans the parking lot before putting an arm around Dawn, pretending to be loving, before he puts a hand over her mouth and lifts her body into the trunk and closes it. She finds an air hole and screams for John to let her out. When they finally stop, he lets her out and tells her to relax and be quiet. They’re at an apartment complex of a woman named Michelle. While Michelle and John do their drugs together, he tells Michelle that Dawn needs a place to stay and she’s willing to work for it. Michelle isn’t super willing to help, but it seems that John is selling her drugs and she agrees to let Dawn stay with her. As soon as John leaves, Dawn realizes that when he said she would work to earn her stay, what he meant is that she would perform sex work.

So Dawn’s now living at this lady Michelle’s apartment and it’s clear she’s unwelcome. Michelle tells her not to touch anything and not to eat anything when she’s not looking. She accuses Dawn of stealing her things. John only comes by every few days and barely looks at Dawn while he’s there. Dawn spots John stealing a statue and realizes that he’s the one who’s been taking Michelle’s stuff.

Dawn manages to sneak a phone call to her mom and asks for a bus ticket to Oregon, where her mom and siblings are now living. She realizes that her mom does indeed still care about her and is worried, so she calls in a bus ticket for Dawn. That night, John and Michelle took Dawn with them somewhere. They went to a luxury apartment complex where it seems like maybe Michelle was doing a “job”. As they’re leaving, they get stopped by security, who searches their car. John had stolen a computer, and all 3 get arrested. In the jail cell, Michelle tells Dawn that Eddie Nash is going to bail her and John out, but not Dawn since she’s a little thief. Dawn breaks down. She can’t be left in jail. So she tells Michelle “It was John! He’s the one stealing from you! I saw him!” Michelle angrily says “You better not be fucking with me!”

Nash bails them out and Dawn is relieved for a brief moment before she realizes that she has to go back to Michelle’s and deal with the repercussions of throwing John under the bus. When they arrive, John and Michelle go straight to the bathroom. Normally this is where they did their drugs, but this time, they were arguing. Michelle stormed out saying she had an appointment. At that moment, Dawn noticed that a sliding glass door was left open. They never left it open, so Dawn focuses on it and thinks “this is it”. 

Dawn’s First Escape

John starts filling up the bathtub and getting ready to take a bath and asks Dawn to fetch him a cup of coffee. She says “sure”. She kind of stands there and focuses on the open door. After a minute John calls out to her “Are you bringing that coffee?” so she says “Yeah!” and then she bolts out the open door.

She runs to a Denny’s where she tries to make a collect call, but it doesn’t go through. So she asks an elderly man for a quarter and tells him that she’s running away from her abusive boyfriend and needs to call her mom to see if she left a bus ticket for her. The kind old man gave her the quarter and said “go call your mother and then come back and have a bowl of chili with me.”

Her mom did indeed leave her a ticket, but it was at a bus station in Glendale, and they were no longer anywhere near there. The elderly man, Sam, offers to sneak her into his retirement home and let her sleep on the floor until the morning when she can try to get to the bus station. She gratefully accepts the offer. In the morning, they all pretend that Dawn is a visitor who is just arriving. During breakfast time, they weren’t allowed to feed Dawn. But that didn’t stop the residents from sneaking morsels of food to her in napkins.

Dawn calls the bus station and the voice on the other end tells her that, yes, her mother did leave a bus ticket for her to Oregon. And also, her boyfriend has been calling looking for her. Dawn panics and tells him the whole story, tells him to please just tell John that she already left or something. The guy fortunately believes her and tells her that her mother has also called numerous times, worried about her. So he offers to pick Dawn up after his shift and take her back to the bus station. 

Dawn got on the bus and made it to Oregon. Finally feeling a sense of safety, she can’t help but remember her heartbreak and the warm love she and John used to have.

Eddie Nash, the Wonderland Gang, the murders, and the aftermath.

Dawn Returns to Her Family

Dawn got on the bus and made it to Oregon. Finally feeling a sense of safety, she can’t help but remember her heartbreak and the warm love she and John used to have.

By this point, it had been 5 years since Dawn and John first began their “relationship,” and Dawn is now 20 years old. Still, John is the only thing she’s known for the past 5 years. She dropped out of school and cut off contact with everyone she knew, so she’s pretty much been John’s shadow this whole time. He kept her hidden from anyone until it was time to sell her for sex. The only interaction she got was with her little dog, Thor. When she left John, she left Thor behind too.

Now that Dawn is in Oregon with her family, she can’t bear to tell them the extent of the abuse. She only tells them that it was really bad. She feels stupid letting John convince her that they didn’t care about her. She gets a job at a hospital and begins to make friends. She has nightmares often. John calls and calls looking for her, and Dawn demands that everyone tell him to go fuck himself. Little by little, John starts charming Dawn’s mom and sister, Edda and Terry, into talking to him on the phone and letting him explain how sorry he is. Terry absolutely can’t believe things got as bad as Dawn is making them out to be, and insists it must have been the drugs. Couldn’t have been John.

Eventually, Terry tells John about Dawn’s work schedule and he starts timing his calls for right when Dawn gets home from work, and everyone else is in bed already. Dawn doesn’t initially give him the time of day, but… here’s the thing. Even without John calling, now that Dawn’s in a safe place and her guard is down, her emotions are allowing themselves to surface. She’s struggling with nightmares, and probably with drug withdrawal too. Now that some time has passed, the sting of the immediate danger has faded a bit and she’s missing a time when someone protected her, made her feel precious, called her beautiful, and gave her teddy bears and rings with her birthstone when no one else wanted her. Now she’s supposed to accept that it wasn’t real. I can’t imagine that; I think anyone would be clinging to love after all the abandonment she suffered.

With John calling all the time, she finds it harder and harder not to listen to his voice and his warm words. He tells her he loves her. He’s so sorry. It was the drugs, and he’s done with them. He just wants to start over and go back to how things were in the beginning. He even put Thor on the phone. Little by little, she starts giving him the time of day again. Eventually, he tells her, excitedly, that he’s got the opportunity of a lifetime. A big job, and it would take care of everything. “But I need you here with me. So we can take off together as soon as it’s done.” Dawn tells him she also really wants to go back to how things were in the beginning and agrees to go back to him if he promises there will be no more hitting, prostitution, or abuse. Dawn decides to go back to John.

June 28th, 1981

As soon as she sees him in the airport, he looks distracted. She points out her bag in the baggage claim area, and John grabs it and along with it, swipes a second random bag. They get back to a motel and right away, John pulls out his suitcase to start freebasing.

That evening, John gets dressed and tells Dawn “This is it baby! I love you!” before heading out for his big job. In the morning, Dawn gets kicked out of the motel because it’s checkout time and John doesn’t pay for any more time. She’s forced to sit out in the street with her duffle bag and her dog, while guys on the street ogle at her. She sobs, remembering the life she left behind in Oregon. After a while, a nice Christian lady named Sally spots her and tells her she runs a youth group and offers her a job and a place to stay. She’s there for a couple of days. She continuously calls John’s answering service checking to see if he’s left her any messages. 

The Wonderland Gang

This big job John is on is where the Wonderland gang comes in. The Wonderland gang was another group of people from whom John obtained drugs. These people let John come over and use their drugs but as always, he became kind of a mooch and none of them liked him. They used him as an errand boy and allowed him to deliver drugs for them. 

The residents of the home were Joy Miller, her boyfriend Bill Deverell, Ron Launius, and Ron’s wife Susan. 

Joy Miller was a high-class woman who developed a drug addiction. She got involved with other drug addicts, like her boyfriend, Bill Deverrell.

Also living in the home were Ron Launius and his wife Susan. Susan was also addicted to heroin, though it seems she was starting to try to get out of this lifestyle.

Ron Launius was a Vietnam veteran who had been dishonorably discharged from the Air Force when he was caught smuggling heroin in the body bags of fallen soldiers. He wasn’t a big fan of John and would often treat him like a jester, demanding that he pull out his dick and show it to party guests. The only thing John had of value was his connection to Eddie Nash. Other people were temporarily staying in the home at the time, like David Lind, a biker and member of the Aryan Brotherhood, and his girlfriend, Barbara “Butterfly” Richardson.

One day, the Wonderland Gang was looking for heroin and John told them he could get it from old buddy, Eddie Nash. Nash would accept all kinds of things in exchange for drugs, and the Wonderland Gang had recently come into possession of some antique guns and jewelry. The problem was that these guns were too rare and likely stolen, so Nash wouldn’t be able to resell them. So he agreed to give them the heroin to sell and then pay him back $1,000 to buy back their stuff, kind of like a pawn shop situation. Instead of selling the drugs, the Wonderland Gang ended up using all of it.

It’s not super clear what exactly started it all but here are a couple of scenarios that have been scenarios. 

Somewhere in this deal with Eddie and the Wonderland gang, with John as the middleman, the deal got messed up and Ron Launius and Bill Deverell beat John up. 

John was sent to retrieve the guns from Eddie Nash, possibly even taking the gang’s money to make the exchange, and came back empty-handed as John probably took the money and bought himself drugs. When Ron and Billy beat him up and told him to make it right, he allegedly claimed that Nash had decided to keep the guns and the money for himself and that he was the one ripping them off.

Again, it’s not certain what exactly happened, but what we know for sure is that the guys beat John up for some reason and to make it right, he offered to help them rob Eddie Nash.

So John agreed to go to Eddie Nash’s house to purchase cocaine, and on the way out, he was going to leave the door unlocked for the Wonderland Gang to sneak in. He even drew a map for them and outlined where Nash kept his safe. The gang put liquid bandaids on their fingers to avoid leaving fingerprints.

June 29th, 1981

The Wonderland Gang gave John $400 to purchase cocaine from Nash. He ended up spending the next 6 hours with Nash and freebasing through all $400. At the end of the night, he left the sliding back door unlocked so the Wonderland Gang could sneak in later. He got back to the Wonderland house to find the gang asleep, after a night of using heroin. Three hours later, they were up and ready to go rob Eddie Nash.

Bill Deverell, Ron Launius, and David Lind were the ones to commit the robbery. Tracy McCourt was the getaway driver. 

They made John go back first to make sure the door was still unlocked and Nash was still asleep. After confirming this, he heads out and sees the Wonderland Gang approaching. He raised his fist and said, “It’s time, get ‘em boys!”

The gang busted in the house yelling that they were the police. They attacked Eddie Nash and his 300lb bodyguard, Greg Diles, and tied them up and humiliated them. They used his heroin right there in the middle of the attack. At one point the guys bumped into each other and someone’s gun was fired unintentionally. It didn’t hit anyone, but it was close enough to hit Diles that it caused powder burns deep enough to cause bleeding. They put handcuffs on Diles and threw a rug over his head so he couldn’t see what was happening, and stuck a gun in Nash’s mouth and told them they were going to kill them. Nash began sobbing and gave in and told them where everything was– the stashes, the money, and the code to the safe.

Afterward, they went back to Wonderland and split their loot. But before they did that, they put away about $100,000 so they could pretend they didn’t get as much and therefore, there was less money to split. They also came out with 8 pounds of cocaine, 5k Quaaludes, a kilo of china white heroin, $10k in cash, and jewelry worth $150k. Bill Deverell called up every one of his clients to try to move the stash. John went home with $3,000 and a pinky ring.

John knew that he was being shorted, as he knew Eddie Nash was worth a lot more money than they were pretending to have made off with. Still, he took his share of money and drugs and went out to find Dawn.

Remember, he had left Dawn in a motel room, where she got kicked out and ended up staying with a nice Christian lady. John got her location after checking his messages and showed up at the lady’s house. He walks through and almost immediately asks if he and Dawn can use the bathroom. They go to the bathroom and he shows her a huge brick of cocaine and he prepares their lines. They do their lines and then start removing their clothes and having sex in Sally’s bathroom.

In the movie Wonderland, Sally bangs on the bathroom door and kicks them out of her house. In real life, it was worse. While John and Dawn are having sex in the bathroom, someone knocks on the door. They assume it’s Sally, but it’s Sally’s sister, Pam. John looks her up and down decides she’s cool, and asks if she’d like a pick-me-up. Then Pam and John went into the bathroom together for hours while Dawn sat on the couch with Thor. They stayed in the bathroom all night. Sally was pissed. 

In the morning, John came out with lipstick all over his neck and Pam had her closed disheveled and looked faded as fuck, but also like she was trying to act super casual, reading a magazine. Dawn could tell what was going on, but it seemed like maybe she knew she couldn’t say anything. Sally furiously kicked them out of her house, calling John the devil. Dawn was embarrassed and sad to lose another friend. John checks them into another motel and tells Dawn “This is it, the big one.” He plans to sell the coke.

The next few days are up for debate. Nash had been not only robbed but also humiliated, and so he vowed revenge on the people who attacked him. 

June 30th, 1981

The day after the robbery, John had been spotted in Hollywood by Greg Diles wearing a pinky ring that had been stolen from Eddie Nash. He forced John into a car and dragged him into Nash’s house by his afro, where Nash was entertaining guests. One of these guests was Scott Thorson, who was dating Liberace. (Behind the Candelabra is a film about Thorson’s relationship with Liberace)

“I was even introduced to Eddie Nash through Liberace and his friend, Chris Cox. We decided to go into the club business with Eddie. You know, during the ’70s and ’80s, it was all sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. But we didn’t realize at the time how dangerous Eddie Nash was. He was the drug lord of Los Angeles.

He was a very powerful man. He supplied a lot of stars [with drugs]. He was supplying Kathy [Smith] with the cocaine and heroin that killed [John] Belushi. He needed me because I knew Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and Flip Wilson, who were big customers. We had the best coke in town and we were supplying it to Hollywood.”

This party wasn’t up to the usual standards because Eddie just had all his drugs stolen from him, so Eddie sent out a couple of cronies to try and find drugs while everyone sat around waiting. And then John Holmes, the drug thief himself, gets dragged into this not-so-much party.

Over the next 18 hours, Nash threw him across the room, shoved him against a wall, and tied him to a chair. He went back and forth between sobbing and screaming at him, saying “How could you do this thing to me?” and “I trusted you, I gave you everything”. He took out his .357 and smacked John, busting his lip. He got ahold of John’s address book and started flipping through names, threatening to hunt down and kill every one of John’s family members, including his mother, his wife, Sharon, and Dawn. Nash started calling everyone he knew telling them that he was holding John Holmes hostage and was torturing him, inviting him to watch. They had his hands bound with electrical tape as Nash and Diles beat the shit out of him, all the while, 50 to 60 people were parading in and out, watching. John, inevitably, gave up the Wonderland Gang and their location.

July 1st, 1981

Nash then sent John and 3 men to the Wonderland house to get revenge and recover his belongings. John claims that he wasn’t there for the killings, but that Nash ordered him to go to the crime scene after the killings, likely to make John look guilty. It’s believed that John may have been held at gunpoint and forced to watch as two of the men brutally attacked the people in the home with steel pipes. They went around the house and bashed everyone’s skulls in. They were beaten so badly that the metal threading on the pipes had imprinted on their skin and their bones. Their heads were bashed in and their faces were unrecognizable. There was so much blood, it was said it looked like buckets of blood were thrown all over the walls and carpets. The only evidence left at the scene was a bloody palm print belonging to John Holmes. The palm print was left on the headboard behind Ron’s head, which appears as though John may have been bracing himself while he swung a steel pipe down on Ron. It’s theorized that perhaps John was forced to participate in the murders to frame him. Also, John may have resented Ron for treating him like a house monkey and a jester.

Bill Deverell, Ron Launius, Joy Miller, and Barbara Richardson were killed that night. Susan Launius was the only one who survived, just barely. David Lind was not at home during the murders, as he had been spending the night in a motel on a drug binge with a male prostitute. Neighbors had heard the commotion, but ignored it, as it wasn’t unusual to hear lots of noise from the Wonderland house. This was in the early morning hours of July 1st, like 2 or 3 AM. The bodies wouldn’t be discovered until about 4 PM that afternoon.

Because Deverell had called up so many people trying to sell the drugs, customers began showing up to the Wonderland house trying to make a purchase. At least 6-8 people went into the house in the hours between the murders and the discovery, but not one of them called the police or tried to help them. They collected whatever drugs they could find, and even though Susan Launius was alive and moaning for help as she faded in and out of consciousness, they just grabbed what they came for and left.

Around 4 PM, some friends of Julia Negron came to the house to visit her. Joy was friends with Chuck Negron and his wife, Julia. Chuck Negron was the singer for the band Three Dog Night, and he was known for his heavy drug addiction. 

Joy Miller of Wonderland had pined for Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night for a long time. “It was actually a big problem”, says Julia Negron. “I was home with the kids, and Chuck would have to go out and purchase our supply of drugs … Joy would give him a handful of pills and let him sleep it off on the couch … one time, I needed to speak to him about something important, and she told me he was sleeping … well I was so angry at her that I drove over to her apartment in Brentwood and in the ensuing argument, I ended up pushing her against the wall.” Chuck’s drug problem was so bad, that he was in debt to a lot of people, including Joy. Julia and her two sons stayed at the Wonderland house for a couple of weeks and traded some furniture and her wedding rings to pay off some of the debt and also collect more drugs.

As it turns out, Joy had invited Chuck and Julia to come hang out on the night of the murders, saying she had something to give them, but they didn’t show up, saying they were tired (possibly hungover). In fact, in the crime scene photos where you can see Barbara Richardson’s body, there are records right behind her head and you can see that the album in the front is one of Three Dog Night’s albums. It’s been theorized that they pulled the album out in anticipation of a visit from Chuck and Julia.

Julia, curious about what Joy was going to give them, showed up at the Wonderland house with her friend “B” around 4 pm (she kept it private but I believe this was songwriter/producer Bruce Fischer) and saw that the metal gate was ajar and dogs were loose and there were flies everywhere, and then they found the dead bodies. “B” went upstairs and confirmed that all of the house’s residents had been attacked. Next door were a couple of furniture movers and Julia told them “There’s dead bodies in there! She then called the police. The movers took a look inside, saw Barbara’s body, and also called the police.

When police arrived, they discovered the bloodied body of 22-year-old Barbara “Butterfly” Richardson, David Lind’s girlfriend, lying on the ground next to the couch she had been sleeping on. Joy Miller, the girlfriend of Bill Deverell, was found dead in her bed, while Bill’s body was slumped at the foot of the bed. A bloody hammer was found tangled in the sheets, and several metal pipes were on the floor. In another bedroom, Ron Launius was beaten beyond recognition, and on the floor next to the bed was Susan, with her head bashed in and crying in pain, but alive.

Susan would make a full recovery, but the brain damage caused her permanent amnesia and she would not remember the details of the attack. 

*Susan did make out some details that supposedly could have described Greg Diles.

John showed up at the doorstep of his wife, Sharon, around 3:30 AM with his clothes ripped and his entire body covered in blood. He initially told her he had been in an accident and asked to take a bath. But as she cleaned him up, she realized he didn’t have any wounds, and the blood was not his. After a while, he admitted to her “I was at a murder and four people got killed in front of me. Somebody’s after me.” He explained that they had done Eddie Nash dirty and Nash killed them in revenge, and that they were going to kill John’s family if he didn’t help them.

Sharon was shocked. She let him clean himself up and sleep for a couple of hours and around 6 AM he told her “I’ll call you in a couple of days” and left. Sharon wouldn’t reveal this confession to the police until John died in 1988.

After leaving Sharon’s home, John returned to the motel where Dawn was waiting for him. She had been sitting up waiting for him all night and watching the news, where she saw bodies being pulled out of the Wonderland house. She recognized the house, as she had been forced to sit in the parked car in front of it while waiting for John. Fortunately, John never allowed her inside. He was wearing different clothes from the night before, and he appeared emotionally drained. He had left the night before feeling hopeful, with the plan to sell the big block of drugs. But he came back without the drugs and money and looked defeated. Without saying much, he took a valium and went to sleep. As he slept, he tossed and turned and shouted “Blood! So much blood!”

In the morning, she tried to ask John what he was dreaming about, but he just made up some story about having gotten a nosebleed the day before. It didn’t even make sense, but Dawn knew better than to pry. They’re sitting in bed watching the news when suddenly the doors are broken down by armed police officers. John and Dawn were arrested. Dawn ended up being let go and going to Sharon’s house because she had nowhere else to go.

Following the attack, police would learn about its connection to Eddie Nash when David Lind went to the police and told them the whole story. David Lind heard about the attacks from someone named Jimmy Arias, aka Mr. Vegas, who had come to the property to put Ron on a plane for a court date in Sacramento. He called Lind and told him “Don’t go to the house, everyone is dead. David went to the police and told them that this might have something to do with the recent robbery the gang committed at Nash’s mansion.

This would be the biggest homicide case for LA detectives since the Manson murders. John was questioned about the murders and he pretty much told them a bunch of information they didn’t care about. It was said he was acting like he was playing a role in a movie, trying to be a big shot. He was willing to sell out every name in the porn industry, but he refused to go on the record and name Eddie Nash because he was afraid Nash would go after the people in his address book. But off the record, John admitted that Eddie did it. He would not say that in front of a jury or testify to that. Since the police didn’t have enough evidence to hold John, they let him go. However, they told him not to leave town. 

John knew that Nash knew that John had been talking to the police, so he tried to get Dawn and Sharon to run away and go into hiding with him. Sharon flat-out refused, but John told Dawn that she would be meeting them later, giving her a glimmer of hope. John and Dawn packed up their things to leave town and John had the brilliant idea to go back to Nash and ask him for $1,000. Dawn was terrified, she knew this was a stupid idea. But he had a plan and he was confident. He went to Nash and told him that if John didn’t return in 30 minutes, Dawn would expose Nash to the police. Nash, I guess for old time’s sake, told John to come back in an hour and look in the mailbox, and there he left $500 for John.

John & Dawn on the Run

John and Dawn left town and were immediately put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. He was considered armed and drug-crazed, and running from questioning in a quadruple homicide investigation.

John and Dawn spray-painted John’s car and initially went to Montana to stay with John’s sister until they got word that the FBI was looking at all of his relatives’ residences. They then drove to Florida and started a new life in this little community that was pretty much made for drifters. It was run by a lady named Big Rosie who gave them jobs for them to afford their rent. John would do maintenance around the property while Dawn would clean the rooms. They were drug-free and happy for a while, and Dawn felt like she had friends again. Eventually, John would start using cocaine again and forcing Dawn to go out and turn tricks.

Inevitably, this caused another fight between John and Dawn where things became violent, and Dawn tried to escape. She ran through the courtyard in front of all the members of her community, who were nearby having dinner. When he caught up to her, he grabbed her long hair and dragged her to the ground, where he began pummeling her in front of everyone. Everyone stood still and watched him beat the shit out of her in broad daylight.

The next day, John left for work and Big Rosie and a couple members of the community came to her rescue. They snuck her out and gave her a place to live with a stripper who had a young child, and offered Dawn an opportunity to care for the child in exchange for free rent. Everyone worked together to keep Dawn safe and hidden. Dawn wasn’t just hiding from John, but she also believed that she was hiding from Eddie Nash and the police. Eventually, Dawn contacted her family and let them know where she was. Her younger brother, Wayne, called her up and asked to come visit her. When she met up with him, she realized it was a setup and the police were waiting for her to give up John’s whereabouts. She hesitated, as she didn’t want him to go to jail. But they convinced her that if John was not in police custody, Eddie Nash would find him and kill him. So she told them where he was, and they went back to the apartment and Florida where he casually said “I’ve been expecting you.” and invited them for coffee.


Dawn ended up getting in touch with her father again, who by now had gotten a whole new girlfriend who was just a couple of years older than Dawn. He told her that they were planning to buy a beach resort in Thailand and wanted to know if she’d like to join them. She agreed and spent the next 7 years there. When she returned to the United States, she intended to confront John and show him how good her life was and how successful she was without him, but he died before she made it. Sharon told him she didn’t need to tell him anyway, saying “he’s not worth it.”

Sharon and Dawn reconnected in 1988 after John died. They would both go on to work as consultants on the 2003 film Wonderland. Sharon was said to have had breakdowns on the set of that film.

John was tried for the murders, but the only evidence they had against him was his handprint on the bed rail by Ron’s head, and all the handprint proved was that John was present at the scene either during or after the attack. The judge in the Holmes trial ruled that the defense could not prove Holmes was forced to help the killers because they threatened him and his family. This is called the “under duress defense” argument and would later be cited in legal textbooks. John was acquitted of all charges but held in contempt for refusing to testify, and so he was sentenced to 110 days in jail. Investigators then tried to go after Eddie Nash, but John refused to testify against him until November 22nd, 1982 after John had a phone conversation with Nash. It’s unknown what they talked about, but whatever Nash said to him made him suddenly stop being afraid of him. His attorney told reporters that John had changed his mind about testifying because of “certain arrangements” that had been made and “certain circumstances” that had arisen.

John was released in the early 80’s with $100 and a little car was given to him by his lawyer. He drove directly to the home of porn producer Bill Amerson, who had a room waiting for John and welcomed him back into the porn industry. By 1983, John was sober, for the most part. He did freebase a few times but mostly just smoked pot. He moved in with a 19-year-old porn actress named Misty Dawn, who he would later marry. Everyone agrees that she looks just like Dawn. John helped her raise her young son and she describes him as a mentor to them both.

Sharon finally divorced John in 1984. It seems that the murders were the final straw for her, as she had a deep respect for human life and likely lost all respect for him having a part in the deaths of 4 people, and the near-death of a fifth. 

In the mid-80s, John had contracted HIV right when the disease was starting to become known to the mainstream media. The company he was working for implemented a testing policy that everyone had agreed to, but John tested under a fake name to avoid being discovered. He started showing symptoms, like bleeding from his ears, and his penis would break out into a rash and bleed if he had sex long enough. John Holmes would be the first well-known porn star to test positive for AIDS. Despite his diagnosis, John continued to perform in pornographic films without protection. John’s company even released a statement saying that John had been suffering from colon cancer.

Catching Eddie Nash, The One Who Got Away

The police tried and tried to take down Eddie Nash. After the Wonderland Murders, they kept a close eye on him and raided his house a bunch of times, seizing guns, drugs, and weapons, and trying to pin him for whatever they could. They referred to him as “the one who got away”. 

July 10, 1981 – Police raided Nash’s home, resulting in a shootout between police and Diles. Diles and Nash would make bail.

November 25, 1981 – A 24-year-old former employee of Nash, named Dominic Fragomeli, had been living at Nash’s home for 5 months. When he was found dead of an overdose, police used that as a legal basis to perform another raid on his home, They found more than 2 lbs. of cocaine and heroin, quaaludes, and opium. Nash’s legal team tried to argue that the drugs were for his personal use and not for selling. That didn’t work, and Nash and Diles were arrested on narcotics charges. 

In 1982, Eddie Nash would be convicted of 7 drug charges and sentenced to 8 years in state prison. During the trial, he would go out to his car and smoke freebase. Then he'd swallow Qualudes before returning to even himself out. His lawyer hired someone to follow him around and poke him with a pin in case he nodded off.

In 1984 his sentence was reduced to time served because of good behavior and because he had health problems from a tumor in his sinus cavity, and he was released.

In 1988, John was visited one last time on his deathbed by detective Tom Lange, who was still trying to put away Eddie Nash for the Wonderland murders. John still refused to divulge any information. They went to the hospital to question him for the final time and he pretended to be incoherent. 

Just before dying, he asked his wife, Misty Dawn, to view his body and make sure nobody had cut off his dick before burying him. Sharon and Dawn also recalled John having a terrifying fear that his penis would get cut off and put on display when he died. 

It wasn’t until April 1988, after John’s death, that Sharon would tell the police about his bathtub confession. She also told James Cox (Wonderland director) that she believed John had committed at least one of those murders himself.

Because Sharon knew John better than anyone, and she was standing face to face with him within an hour or so of the murders, I wonder what made her say that.

Just 6 months after John’s death, police went after Scott Thorson for drug charges and offered him a deal for a shorter sentence in exchange for information that could put away Eddie Nash. Thorson would testify that he was at Eddie’s house when he ordered John and Diles to go out and kill the Wonderland Gang. 

In 1988, Nash and Diles were charged with the murders. Tracy McCourt, the Wonderland gang’s getaway driver, was brought in to testify and police offered protection to him and his wife during the trial. 

Thorson and McCourt are good witnesses, and yet the trial ended with a hung jury 11:1. We’ll find out later that Nash bribed the one juror who held out with $50,000.

In 2000, Eddie Nash was indicted on federal charges of running a drug dealing and money laundering operation, conspiring to carry out the Wonderland Murders, and bribing one of the jurors of his first trial. 

He ended up admitting that he ordered his men to go to the Wonderland house to retrieve his stolen belongings, but insists that he did not order them to commit murder. He was offered a plea deal and ended up pleading guilty and was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison, and ordered to pay $250k. He ended up only serving 1 year. However, he allegedly turned his life around. Eddie Nash died in 2014 at the age of 85. 

Though no one was ever charged with the crime, police are confident that Eddie Nash was behind the murders and simply failed to successfully charge him.



Photos & Videos

Dawn Schiller with her siblings and father

Dawn's parents, Edda & Wayne

Dawn Schiller and John Holmes

Dawn Schiller

Young John Holmes and his first wife, Sharon Gebenini

John & Sharon Holmes at their wedding

John Holmes with his mother and neice

Eddie Nash under arrest

The Wonderland Crime Scene