Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Wonderland Murders


They drove until they ran out of road. In Miami, they checked into a flophouse. Holmes worked in construction until he had problems cashing his checks under the alias he was using, Schiller told Crime Library. After he grew violent and started pimping her on Miami Beach, she worked up the courage to slip from his grasp and notify the police.

When the Miami SWAT team, accompanied by two LAPD detectives, burst through the door of his hotel, Holmes was lying in bed watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. He calmly told the cops he was expecting them, according to Rolling Stone, and offered them coffee. The declined, handcuffed him, and shipped him back to California.

In December 1981, Holmes was formally charged with the killings.

During his trial, the prosecution argued that the Wonderland victims were killed in retaliation for the Nash break-in, which was never reported.

John Holmes in court
John Holmes in court

Deputy District Attorney Ronald S. Coen told the court that Holmes was responsible for bludgeoning at least one of the victims. Holmes had left a bloody palmprint on the railing of Launius' bed — the only suspicious print found at the crime scene, the Times reported. The jury was shown close-up photos of the impressions left by the threaded lead pipes in the walls and the victim's skulls.

Susan Launius, who was so badly injured in the attack that surgeons had to remove part of her skull, testified that all she remembered of the night were "three shadowy figures."

Holmes' defense lawyer, Earl Hanson, argued that his client was yet another victim of the crime because he was forced to watch his friends get killed. Holmes refused to take the witness stand himself, fearing Nash would make good on his threat to harm his family.

LA County Grand Jury Seal
LA County Grand Jury Seal

After three months, the jury acquitted Holmes, saying there wasn't enough hard evidence to support the prosecution's case against him.

But Holmes' celebration was cut short when a judge ordered him to testify about the slayings before a Los Angeles County grand jury. When he refused, he was charged with contempt and sent to jail.

The 'Porn King' spent 110 days alone in a windowless cell. He kept busy by doing yoga and reading the paperbacks his friends smuggled in, he writes in his autobiography. He got so bored he flushed the toilet for thrills.

He told Hustler that his jailers would watch him shower, "stand there, stare at me, drool and leave," then later ask him to autograph Wadd videos.

It wasn't the end of his humiliation.

We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'