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Holmes' Confession in Bathtub: Told Wife of Role in 4 Murders

April 14, 1988|ROBERT W. STEWART | Times Staff Writer

Through his attorney, Nash has consistently denied any involvement in the Wonderland Avenue killings. No one but Holmes has ever been charged in the murder case. Nash was separately convicted of cocaine possession and served about two years in state prison.

Sharon Holmes said she is convinced that her former husband was at least present when the murders took place.

In the summer of 1981, Sharon Holmes said, she and John Holmes were living together as the managers of a small Glendale apartment complex. Although he was often away from home, "I was his safe place," Sharon Holmes said. As the 1980s began, and Holmes became more heavily involved in cocaine, his absences grew longer.

One was abruptly interrupted on the morning of July 1, 1981, when a shaken John Holmes crawled into their Glendale bedroom, bleeding, and told his wife that he had been in an accident. Holmes slept fitfully for a few hours, Sharon Holmes said, and moaned about blood and pain.

Nine days later, Holmes was picked up in a Sherman Oaks motel in the company of Jeanna Sellers, a 20-year-old neighbor. Sellers agreed to talk to The Times on the condition that the paper not reveal her true name.

After Holmes' negotiations for an immunity deal with police and prosecutors fell apart, the actor made plans to leave town with Sellers. But before they headed east, Holmes paid a final, early morning visit to his wife.

"Basically, he said, 'I'm going to have to run,' " Sharon Holmes recalled, "And I said, 'You're going to have to tell me.' "

Story Told in Tub

So Holmes summoned his wife into the bathroom, drew steaming water into the tub, slipped in, and began to talk.

"He told me that he had set up the robbery. . . . He had set it up with the other people, the people that lived at Wonderland. . . . "

The day after the robbery, someone who knew Nash apparently spotted Holmes in Hollywood, wearing a piece of jewelry that had been stolen from Nash's home, he told his wife. When Holmes returned to his car hours later, two armed men ordered him to drive to Nash's home, he said.

At the house, Holmes told his wife, Nash pored over Holmes' address book, and stopped when he came to the pages that listed addresses in Ohio, where Holmes was born and where his mother and other relatives still lived.

"He said he was told he would be killed and people in the book would be killed if (Holmes) didn't do what (Nash) wanted. In essence, what they wanted him to do was . . . to tell them who it was," Sharon Holmes said. "He would have to take them to the house."

Holmes told his wife that he rode with three armed men to the address on Wonderland Avenue. Holmes buzzed an outside intercom box and asked someone inside to let him in. A gate was unlocked, and Holmes walked up the stairs to the entrance with the gunmen concealed behind him.

Held at Gunpoint

Holmes told his wife that he was held against a wall, at gunpoint, while the three men beat to death Launius, 37; William DeVerell, 42; Joy Audrey Miller, 46; and Barbara Richardson, 22. Launius' estranged wife, Susan, who was visiting, survived the assault but suffered severe head injuries. She was later unable to identify her attackers.

There was "a lot of screaming going on," Holmes told his wife.

A day or two later, Holmes gave a compressed, but similar account of what happened to Sellers, she told The Times.

"He said, 'They stuck a gun to my head and they made me go back in (to the Wonderland Avenue house) and open the door.' That's what he told me. And (that they) made him watch."

James M. Eisenman, a Century City attorney who represents Holmes' estate and his second wife, said he doubts Sharon Holmes' story.

"Based on the material given to us by John Holmes (for the book), that version of the facts is not an accurate one," Eisenman said.

But Sharon Holmes and Jeanna Sellers insist that it is true.

"(John) was so much of a liar . . . he didn't know what the truth was anymore; about himself, about anything," Sellers said.

"He went out of his life denying," said Sharon Holmes, "(saying) 'I had no involvement.'

"It's a lie."

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