There have been many notorious Los Angeles murders, both solved and unsolved. Among the most famous deaths include that of Elizabeth Short, who was found cut in half in a field in 1947. Also notable is the murder of actress Sharon Tate, carried out by the Manson family. And then there's the case of the Wonderland murders, an unsolved crime where four people were brutally killed in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles, California on July 1, 1981.
The true story of the Laurel Canyon murders involves drugs and drug dealers, an infamous porn star, and one of the wealthiest, most powerful people in Los Angeles in the seventies and eighties, a skeevy businessman who owned a number of infamous Hollywood clubs. The killing, commonly referred to as the Four on the Floor murder, was vicious and bloody; authorities never truly figured out who committed the crime, although they're fairly confident in their suspicions. The gruesome crime scene video is available today, but fair warning—it's not for the faint of heart.
Around 3 am on July 1, 1981, a group of men armed with lead pipes entered 8763 Wonderland Avenue, a known drug house in Los Angeles, California. Five people were staying in the townhouse that morning, including Ronald Launius, the leader of the drug circle, his wife Susan, William Raymond "Billy" DeVerell, his girlfriend Joy Miller, and their accomplice Barbara Richardson.
The armed men beat the group of five beyond recognition. Four of the occupants were murdered. Susan was left for dead but ultimately survived, although she suffered severe brain damage and had to have a portion of her skull removed. Richardson's body was discovered in the living room next to the couch where she was sleeping. Miller and DeVerell's bodies were found in one bedroom, and Lanius and his wife's in another. DeVerell was discovered upright, propped against a TV stand. The house was ransacked and covered in blood. Police identified the murder weapons as hammers and metal pipes.
Neighbors reported hearing screams, but no one called the police until over 12 hours later at 4 pm. One neighbor said his girlfriend woke him up when she heard someone scream, "Oh, God, don't kill me," but they fell back asleep. Another neighbor said, "How can you tell if someone is really shouting or just being silly?" She lived two doors down from the crime scene and stepped onto her balcony to peer over when she heard screams but never called police. The murders were discovered when a professional mover heard Susan's moans.
By June 1981, Holmes was in over his head in the world of drugs; he was severely in debt and was stealing cash from his dealings, money which belonged to the Wonderland gang, to buy more drugs for himself. When the group realized what Holmes was doing, they took his keys to the Wonderland house, beat him up, and threatened his life if he didn't fix the situation. Knowing how dangerous the men were, Holmes was frightened, and he came up with a plan to assist the gang in robbing one of his wealthy acquaintances, who was known to keep a trove of drugs, money, and other valuables in his home.
Holmes drew a map of the inside of his friend's house, which directed the Wonderland gang on where to find the valuables. At midnight on June 29, 1981, the group gave Holmes $400 to purchase drugs from his friend. He hung out with him for six hours, and upon leaving made sure the back door was unlocked so the gang could gain entrance to the home.
Armed with guns and fake police badges, Deverell, Launius, McCourt, and Lind stormed Eddie Nash's house. Lind attempted to subdue one of Nash's bodyguards with handcuffs and accidentally shot him in the process. The men made their way to Nash's safe in his bedroom. They held Nash at gunpoint and forced him to give them the combination. The group made off with eight pounds of cocaine, heroin, 5000 Quaaludes, jewelry, guns, and over $100,000 in cash.
When the police arrived at the Wonderland house, they were taken aback by the brutality of the crime scene. There was blood everywhere. The investigators compared the Wonderland murder house to the Tate/La Bianca killings carried out by the infamous Manson family. The police decided to videotape the crime scene, showing each of the bodies as they found them. It would mark the first time in history that a video was used as evidence in a criminal court case. The footage is available online, although it's extremely graphic.