Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Wonderland Murders

"They Were Dirt"

Sharon Holmes said that her husband came to her house a few hours after the murders, caked in blood and moaning that he'd been in a car accident, according to the Los Angeles Times. But Sharon, a trained nurse, couldn't find any lacerations on his body that were deep enough to account for the red stuff that literally plastered his skin and clothes.

"This isn't your blood, John," she said.

He fell silent and refused to tell her the truth. After he cleaned himself off, he drove off with Schiller.

Nine days later, the LAPD kicked in the door of the Sherman Oaks motel where the pair was staying, and dragged them into a station for questioning. Schiller was released after she denied recognizing photographs of Nash, the Wonderland victims or the exteriors of the houses. Having nowhere else to go, she went to stay with Sharon Holmes. When John failed to negotiate an immunity deal with the LAPD, he too was released, but the cops told him to stick around town.

John Holmes (left), arrested
John Holmes (left), arrested

He didn't. Before he left, however, he paid his wife one last visit. She told the Los Angeles Times that she drew him a bath, and that he sat in it, sobbing, and told her about his role in the murders.

The day after the robbery, according to her account, one of Nash's associates saw Holmes walking down the street wearing a piece of jewelry that had been stolen from Nash's mansion. When Holmes returned to his car, two armed men forced him to drive to Nash.

The Palestinian confiscated Holmes' address book and told him he'd kill his relatives if Holmes didn't take him to the people responsible for the break-in. Fearing for his family in Ohio, Holmes did as he was ordered. He led Nash's henchman to the Wonderland house, buzzed the intercom, and walked up the stairs with the gunmen behind him.

Inside, he was held at gunpoint and forced to watch the thugs bludgeon the residents to death, he told her, according to the paper.

"He said, 'I had to stand there and watch what they did,'" Sharon Holmes, who divorced John in 1984, told the Los Angeles Times.

"I said, 'John, how could you? You know these people.'"

"And he said, 'They were dirt.'"

In his autobiography, Holmes calls the inhabitants of 8763 Wonderland "scum, the poorest excuses imaginable for humanity," but later describes himself as "part of the family."

Dawn Schiller, recent photo
Dawn Schiller, recent photo

Sharon Holmes said John never told her the names of the killers, according to the paper, which was given a similar account of the events by Schiller.

But in his autobiography, Holmes insisted he was held captive at Nash's home during the murders. He wrote that he returned to the Wonderland house to find his roommates dead.

"Their heads were mutilated," he writes. "Pulverized. Nothing remained but slime." A few paragraphs later, he mused over who was responsible for the murders, suggesting that it might have been Nash's goons or some other drug dealer who was owed money by the Wonderland folks.

Holmes didn't stay in Los Angeles to play detective. He dyed his hair black and spray-painted his Chevy Malibu gray, then hit the highway with Schiller, headed due East. 

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