Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jesse James Hollywood

911 Calls Ignored

The last two days of Nick Markowitz's life are cobbled together here from newspaper accounts, police reports, court testimony, and a 750-page grand jury transcript.

Shortly before 1 p.m. that Sunday, Pauline Ann Mahoney was driving home from church with her children when she saw a group of young men punching and kicking a boy who was cowering on the sidewalk.

Jesse Rugge
Jesse Rugge

"They were beating him up pretty badly," she testified before the grand jury. "(Then) the lot of them threw him into the van, and then they jumped in, shut the door, and the van started moving."

The family repeated the van's license plate number aloud as they sped home, calling 911 as soon as they got in the door. An officer from the Los Angeles Police Department later visited the family with further questions. The transcripts also show that a second 911 call was made by someone who saw the abduction, but there were no details about what the witness saw, or the police response.

In one of the many distressing what-ifs that plague the case, authorities failed to track down the van until a month later.

Inside were Hollywood, William Skidmore, 20, and Jesse Rugge, 20, at the wheel. Hollywood ordered a frightened Nick to empty his pockets, taking his wallet and his pager, which bleated repeatedly as Nick's mother tried to call him. The van stopped to pick up Brian Affronti, 20, another friend/dealer of Hollywood's, who later testified that he quickly realized the 15-year-old was not a willing passenger.

"If you run, I'll break your teeth," he overheard Hollywood threaten Nick. "Your brother is going to pay me my money right now."

Santa Barbara County Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Zonen
Santa Barbara County
Deputy Dist. Atty. Ron Zonen

The van drove up the Ventura highway toward Santa Barbara, where the group planned to go to a party. They stopped at a house, where Nick was taken to a bedroom and blindfolded, gagged, and bound with duct tape as music thudded through the walls. Several people peeked into a bedroom during the party and were shocked to see the young captive, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. But all of them chose to close the door and party on, ignoring the terrified teen. The boys from Los Angeles had a bad reputation, and no one wanted to get on their bad side.

Hollywood got in the face of one guest as he was preparing to leave.

"Hollywood walked up to me and kind of like whispered to me... 'Keep your fucking mouth shut, you don't say nothing,'" he later testified.

The young man, and countless others, blindly followed Hollywood's orders.

"You sit back and say, but for this person, but for that person... any one of them could have altered the horrible outcome of the situation simply by picking up the phone," Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen later told the Los Angeles Times with disgust.

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