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  • John 8:33 am on March 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , robbery,   

    The Nash Robbery And The Aftermath 

    According to David Lind, the gang used Liquid Band-Aid on their fingertips during the Nash robbery. This was to avoid leaving fingerprints and to allow them to be more nimble with their hands; tying people up, holding guns, searching the house for drugs and valuables, and to open the safe. The Liquid Band-Aid idea was allegedly Barbara Richardson’s, as she and Joy had attended the planning meetings for the robbery.

    When the gang arrived back at Wonderland, Lind immediately pointed at Holmes and told Ron Launius not to tell Holmes anything. Joy and Barbara left and headed to the Canyon Store for cigs and booze, while John paced and waited in the living room. Billy, Ron and Dave were splitting up and taking inventory of the loot in Ron’s bedroom.  They hid most of the drugs and cash there, and brought out some drugs and cash to party with and also to give John and Tracy their shares. 

    Susan Launius arrived the morning of Tuesday, June 30, 1981. It was the day after the robbery and the day before the murders. I am not sure if Lind met her or not before he left that day. Ron either flew her down from Yuba City or Marysville, or picked her up in Tujunga, north of Burbank. She was said to have lived in Tujunga in the early newspaper accounts of the murders. It would have taken Ronnie an hour or two to drive there and bring her back to Wonderland that day. Susan stated that she was wearing blue jeans, brown heels and a top upon arrival at the house. In the crime scene video, you can see a big suitcase in Ron’s room. I don’t know what she did in Tujunga or up north for a living or if she lived with family or a friend. Early news articles for the murders list her age at 25, others at 29. I think 29 was correct or she would have been 15 when she married Ron in 1971. 19 years old sounds more appropriate. Oh! …an interesting thing to note is… during her courtroom testimony, Susan only remembers seeing Ron and you guessed it… Joy Miller!

    It's a shame that Joy only had two lines in the movie. The deleted scene with she and Holmes is funny.

    It’s a shame that Joy only had two lines in the movie. The deleted scene with she and Holmes is funny. I found this pic on a foot fetish web site as I was searching for Joy Miller via Google Images. Classic internet. I love you.

    So, Joy must have made quite an impression on Susan. I also find it interesting, that no matter what is said about Ron, he was at least trying to get back together with his estranged wife. A reconciliation, a new start so to speak. Not many drug-crazed murdering maniacs do that sort of thing, in my opinion. Ronnie now had “long time money” as well. But who knows… in six months he probably would have been broke again.

    Nash did not need to be a genius to figure out who had robbed him. Holmes had just left the Nash house a few minutes before the gang invaded the home. Holmes had also been there three times in the early morning, doing freebase and unlocking doors. Of course, Nash and Diles could put two and two together. The Gang and Holmes were idiots to overlook the obvious. They even ignored Tracy McCourt’s concerns once they were back at the house. It was all drugs, drugs, drugs. McCourt was the only person who was scared when they arrived back at Wonderland. He went home to North Hollywood a short while later, on his own. I wonder where he was when he saw the news reports two days later…?

    Summa baby Bummaa!

    Summa baby Bummaa!

    *******************************

    The Robbery and Aftermath

    David Lind: At Nash’s there was a chain-link gate that we just pushed open; we went to the sliding-glass doors that were left open by Holmes — and entered the guest bedroom. There was a doorway leading into the hallway, and I saw Gregory Diles, the bodyguard, a 300-pound black man, coming out of the kitchen with a serving tray in his hands.

    I shouted, “Freeze! Police! You are under arrest!”

    And then Ronnie and Billy also threw down on Eddie Nash.

    I had a leather case containing a San Francisco police officer’s badge, and we all identified ourselves as police officers, and we were all armed. So we handcuffed Gregory Diles and lay him on his stomach. But while I was cuffing Diles, Ronnie bumped my arm and the gun went off.

    Tracy McCourt: I was sitting in the car waiting for them when I heard a real loud noise and knew it had to be a gunshot. It sounded like a Magnum, but I calmed down by telling myself that any of the neighbors would have thought it was a load of lumber falling off a truck.

    Dodge D50 4x4 Pick Up. Was this Billy's or Ron's vehicle? Source: LAPD Crime Scene Video

    Dodge D50 4×4 Pick Up. Was this Billy or Ron’s vehicle? Source: LAPD Crime Scene Video

    David Lind: When the shot went off, Eddie Nash immediately fell to his knees. Diles wasn’t shot or anything, he just suffered some powder burns and bled a little.

    So I finished handcuffing him and laid him on the floor and put a throw rug over his head so he couldn’t see what we were doing. Eddie Nash was on his knees with his hands behind his head. Then Ron and Billy took Nash into his bedroom and I followed.

    Eddie was asked to lie facedown on the carpet of his bedroom. Ron went to a wardrobe closet where there was a floor safe, and asked Nash for the combination. Then Ronnie opened the safe and withdrew a half-pound zip-lock storage bag, which was approximately three-quarters full of cocaine.

    The Wonderland Spanish DVD Cover and New Title: "Excesses: At Your Own Risk"

    The Wonderland Spanish DVD Cover and New Title: “Excesses: At Your Own Risk”

    John had told us earlier that there was also a laboratory vial — approximately eight to ten inches in length, half an inch in diameter, full of heroin, which he called China white — and that it was in the area of Eddie Nash’s dresser. We picked that up, and also an attaché case full of money and jewelry. We found everything.

    Inside the attaché case was a considerable sum of money in twenties, fifties, and hundred-dollar bills, and a considerable amount of jewelry — gold jewelry and diamonds.

    Then I taped up Gregory Diles and removed the handcuffs, because the handcuffs could have been identified by what was engraved on them, and went to the bedroom and taped up Eddie Nash and threw a sheet over him.

    1975 Ford Granada. This type of car was used by the gang in the robbery. The movie used a different car.

    1975 Ford Granada. This type of car was used by the gang in the robbery. The movie used a different car.

    After that, as we were getting ready to leave, Ronnie started to question Diles about the whereabouts of the rest of the stuff, then pulled out a knife and started to cut him, but I told Ronnie, “We’ve got everything we need here. Let’s go.”

    So I opened the front door and signaled to Tracy McCourt. He started to back the car up. Then we all split.

    John was waiting inside the door when we arrived back at Wonderland Avenue. The first thing he wanted to know was exactly what had happened. He was very excited about it, but I told Ron not to tell him anything.

    The condos where Eddie lives in Tarzana. Present day.

    The condos where Eddie lives in Tarzana. Present day.

    David Lind: There were five of us involved in the robbery. Ronnie Launius, Billy Deverell, and myself were to [each] receive 25 percent of what we took. And John Holmes and Tracy McCourt were to split the remaining 25 percent of the drugs and the money. Everybody was in a pretty good mood after the success of the robbery, and we just got high.

    I don’t remember when John left. I do remember when I left. I left approximately nine or ten o’clock the next morning (Tuesday).

    And that was the last time I saw any of them alive.

    "This town is a f**king desert!"

    “This town is a f**king desert!”

    Source:

    The Other Hollywood by Legs McNeil

    Susan Launius’ Testimony at John Holmes Trial

    David Lind’s Testimony and Statements to Police

     
    • localarts 6:45 pm on March 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I remember reading that launius had a July 1st court date in Sacremento for driving a stolen car… I wonder if that 75 Granada was the second car he stole?? That Dodge was probably a neighbors vehicle.

      • John 7:48 am on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I read about his court date also. I don’t think he was planning on going, dead or not. hahaa

    • localarts 10:07 am on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I remember David lind said a guy by the name of Jimmy Arias a.k.a Mr Vegas showed up at wonderland that morning to put launius on a plane for his court appearance. It was Arias that called Lind ane told him not to go to the wonderland house, everybody was dead. I’ve always wondered who Arias was.

      • John 12:58 pm on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Interesting! I had not read of this before. I know that one of Holmes producer buddies, “Amerson”?, told people a hit man showed up to take down the gang for some debt they owed or stole…he told Amerson, “they were already dead when I got there”.

        • localarts 4:34 pm on March 29, 2013 Permalink

          That was Linds testimony in the the first trial. The hitman Amerson is referring to was a man by the name of Paul Kelly. Kelly was one of Howard Cook’s enforcers and was subpoenaed to testify in the Nash trial, Kelly took the 5th.

    • Oklahoma Cowboy 8:31 pm on July 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Pardon my ignorance, but has anyone considered Tracy McCourt as a possible suspect? His alibi of going home alone is pretty thin.

    • Pixie 4:36 pm on June 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Am now reading the Souza and Lange book, and in this book, it says that Jamie McGuan was also present during this robbery. She was allegedly high on heroin and in and out of consciousness during the robbery. I’m surprised David dint’ mention it.

  • John 12:42 pm on October 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , robbery, wonderland country store   

    The Canyon Country Store 

    Photo Credit:  BonnieBrae (Thanks!)

    The Canyon Country Store is a world famous stop off for groceries and drinks in the Hollywood Hills. Famous rock’n’roll groupie, Pamela Des Barres, even hung out in the parking lot with her friend hoping to meet rock stars who would emerge from the maze of streets in this popular area for celebs. Some other well known patrons were… you guessed it, the Wonderland Gang. In fact, according to David Lind, Joy and Barbara headed to the store right after the boys returned home from robbing Eddie Nash. It’s true. Billy, Dave and Ron were counting and sorting the loot in Ron’s room, while the girls went for booze and cigs. It was party time. Susan was not at the house yet, so poor John Holmes had to wait in the living room by himself, pacing back and forth to see what his take would be. When he got his share of the cocaine, he immediately went to the stove to cook up some rock (as most people do). It’s as Ron said in the movie:  “Do I look like I’m f–n hungry! The only thing I want to heat up is some dope!”

    And with that, we bring you the Wonderland Country Store:

    Photo credit: BonnieBrae

    Photo credit: BonnieBrae

    The Route from Wonderland. 1.4 miles in 5 minutes.

     

     
  • John 8:46 am on August 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: pacino, robbery, sex change,   

    Dog Day Afternoon – The Sex Change Love Story 

    John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturile were involved in the true story of a daring daytime bank robbery in Brooklyn, for which the film Dog Day Afternoon was based.

    Introduction

    On August 22, 1972, Wojtowicz, along with Salvatore Naturile and Robert Westenberg, attempted to rob a branch of the Chase Manhattan bank on the corner of East Third Street and Avenue P in Gravesend, Brooklyn. Wojtowicz and Naturile held seven Chase Manhattan bank employees hostage for 14 hours. Westernberg fled the scene before the robbery was underway when he saw a police car on the street. Wojtowicz, a former bank teller, had some knowledge of bank operations. However, he apparently based his plan on scenes from the movie The Godfather, which he had seen earlier that day. Ironically, Al Pacino, star of The Godfather, would later go on to portray Wojtowicz in Dog Day Afternoon. The robbers became media celebrities. Wojtowicz was arrested, but Naturile was killed by the FBI during the final moments of the incident.

    When entering the limo to be chauffeured to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in South Ozone Park, Queens, Wojtowicz told Naturile to sit with bank employee Shirley Ball and another co-worker in the third row, while the others sat in the fourth, reserving the fifth row for himself and the two remaining hostages. There was a .38 caliber handgun hidden in the front seat of the limousine that John missed when searching the limo upon first arriving at the bank. FBI Special Agent Fred Fehl positioned himself on the driver’s side of the limo next to the open window closest to Salvatore, who sat between two hostages in the third row. FBI Special Agent Dick Baker took up a position on the right side of the car closest to John, who was still situated in the rear seat. NYPD Police Chief of Detectives Louis C. Cottell, who headed the negotiations during the initial standoff, stayed 15 feet away from the rear of the limo.

    When everyone prepared for the final standoff, the Hansa Jet rolled out onto the tarmac where they sat in the limo. Baker asked a police officer identified only as “Murphy” to ask whether the group wanted any food on the flight. He took advantage of this opportunity to assess the threat Salvatore and John posed, from where they were situated in the vehicle. Baker grabbed the handgun with his left hand and ordered the two men to “freeze”. Simultaneously, he wrestled with the barrel of Naturile’s shotgun, knocking it toward the ceiling and shooting him in the head point blank. Naturile slumped in the seat, mortally wounded. He was rushed to the hospital by an ambulance that was waiting at the scene but was pronounced dead on arrival.

    He Did It For Love

    The heist was meant to pay for John’s gay lover’s sex reassignment surgery.

    Years before the famous robbery, John met Ernest Aron (later to be known as Elizabeth Eden) in 1971 at an Italian feast in New York City. The two were married on December 4, 1971, in Greenwich Village.

    The first gay marriage? Liz was “pre-op” here. Wedding was not to be recognized, as John was already married to his wife.

    Elizabeth Debbie “Liz” Eden (born Ernest Aron, August 19, 1946 – September 29, 1987) was an American transsexual woman whose boyfriend John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a bank to pay for her sex reassignment surgery. The incident was made into the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon. The character Leon Shermer (played by Chris Sarandon) is loosely based on her.

    John negotiating during the actual robbery. Al Pacino? Great casting!

    Eden, then known as Ernest Aron, and Wojtowicz were married on December 4, 1971 in Greenwich Village. At the time of Wojtowicz’s attempted robbery of a Chase Manhattan bank branch in Brooklyn, New York, on August 22, 1972, she was in a psychiatric institution, following a series of suicide attempts. Eden was not previously aware of his plans.

    After the failed heist, Wojtowicz was sentenced to 20 years, although he was released in April 1987; while imprisoned, he sold the movie rights to the story for $7,500 and subsequently was able to help finance Eden’s sex reassignment surgery.

    Eden, born in Ozone Park, Queens, died of pneumonia resulting from AIDS in Rochester, New York. Her personal papers and photographs were donated posthumously to the National Archive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on June 14, 1990.

    The actual bank in Gravesend, Brooklyn, NY

    Sources:

    Flatbush Pigeon. http://flatbushpigeon.blogspot.com/2008/05/featured-brooklynite-of-week-john.html

    Wikipedia

     
    • gayle 12:31 pm on December 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It’s no surprise that you wrote something on this. You cover everything cool and unusual. Coincidentally I just watched a new documentary on this last night called ‘Dog’ that was released last year. It contained mostly old film footage, but was very good. It included some funny interviews with Wojtowicz and good interviews with his first wife, mother and lover he met in jail. I’ve been interested in this story for years, my parents took me to see it in the theatre when i was a kid, strange I know!! It’s such a crazy story.

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