The Ninja Murder Case
The Main Suspects
The brothers attended their parents' funeral, but weren't welcome. According to news reports, one relative spotted them and yelled: "Murderers! How dare you come to this gathering?" Neil got into a pushing match with the person who yelled at him, and Stewart angrily left, crashing into another guest's car on his way out.
Detectives didn't have to look very hard to find some pretty substantial evidence pointing to the Woodman brothers. For one thing, their mother had a $500,000 insurance policy, with their company as the beneficiary, but Gerald's health was too poor to obtain insurance. Then there was the matter of the dog, Tiger. Gerald walked him every day at the same time. Keeping such a regular schedule would have made it relatively easy for a hit man to do his job had Gerald been the primary target. This led detectives to think that Vera was the target, with her life insurance policy as a prime motive. A homebody, Vera rarely ventured outside, except on special occasions such as Yom Kippur. Neil and Stewart would have known this.
The life insurance money was paid and the brothers both bought new Mercedes-Benzes. When the detectives tried to interview them, Stewart bowed out saying he was sick, and Neil refused to answer any questions other than to profess his innocence.
"We knew they were lying early on," Holder said.
Knowing that someone committed a crime and proving it are two different things, though. Holder got his big break when two former police officers came forward a few months later with some very interesting news. The pair claimed to have been guards working the bar mitzvah party that Gerald and Vera had been barred from attending. Former officer Gene Scherrer would later testify that Neil had been speaking with another man named Steven Homick at the event about his parents, and Homick had said, "He'd waste them if he had to," according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Neil was so adamant about his parents not showing up at the bar mitzvah, he actually wanted Homick to shoot them if they showed up," Holder said.
The other retired officer at the scene, John O'Grady, said Homick, 45, was a retired Los Angeles police officer and former professional baseball player. Holder checked and found that Homick had joined the force in the early 1960s but had never made it past probation. Instead, he moved to Las Vegas and got mixed up in organized crime. He was the prime suspect in a triple murder/robbery then under investigation.