The Case of Jesse James Hollywood - Unsolved Mysteries

A suburban drug dealer is accused of kidnap and murder.

Jesse James Hollywood

Nick was abducted by young men in a white van

CASE DETAILS

Just north of Los Angeles, in West Hills, California, Nick Markowitz celebrated his bar mitzvah with dozens of friends and loved ones.  It would be the last joyous occasion before tragedy ripped the Markowitz family apart.  It all started with Nick’s half brother, Ben, who was seven years older.  For most of his life, Ben had been in trouble. And soon young Nick would be a victim of Ben’s world of deceit and betrayal.

Jesse ordered them to kill Nick

Ben owed $1,200 to a man named Jesse James Hollywood, who was given his notorious name at birth.  Jesse grew up in a loving middle class home and was given every chance to succeed in life.  But somewhere along the way, Jesse went off track and turned to a life of crime.   According to Commander Bruce Correll of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, by age 19, Jesse had amassed enough drug profits to buy his own house:

“Jesse James Hollywood was driving expensive cars. He was partying with his friends on nearly a daily basis.  And he was living a rather lavish lifestyle for a young man without any legitimate means of employment.”

Nick’s body was in a forest

On August 6, 2000, Jesse allegedly decided to find Ben and collect what was owed to him.  According to reports, Jesse and his friends cruised the West Hills area of Los Angeles looking for Ben. They could not find him, but they did locate his younger brother, Nick. According to Commander Correll, Nick Markowitz just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time:

“Witnesses say that they saw a van pull over, and, there was a physical confrontation, and  young Nick was forced into the van…  On that day… his only problem was that he had an older brother who had provoked the wrath of Jesse James Hollywood.”

After repeated unanswered phone calls to her son, Nick’s mother, Susan Markowitz, knew something was wrong:

“I was making Nick breakfast and went upstairs to get him, and he was not there.  I paged him, and he did not return my page. I guess I must have paged him 100 times. I knew something was wrong.”

Police believe that Nick could not return his mother’s call because he’d been kidnapped and taken to a home in Santa Barbara. There he would remain a hostage until his brother Ben paid his debt to Jesse James Hollywood.  Ben, however, was in no rush to pay up:

“He’s a real little guy. Very obnoxious.  Just the type of guy you’d want to take his stuff. I didn’t fear him. He was… just a little man. I was, like, $1,200? Yeah, sure, I’ll get you later, buddy.”

Jesse was finally captured in Brazil

On the following day, witnesses reported seeing Nick at the Santa Barbara home. Jesse was not at the house.  Nick was no longer bound nor gagged. According to Commander Correll, Nick’s captors seemed to treat him like a guest:

“Nick was free to move around the residence.  Young people did come and go from the residence, although they were told that he had been in essence kidnapped…he was not acting as they might expect someone that had been kidnapped… I personally feel that Nick had the expectation that at some point in time he would be freed.”

In the ensuing days, there was no reported effort by Jesse James Hollywood to exchange Nick for the money Ben Markowitz owed him. According to witnesses, Jesse realized the situation was quickly spiraling out of control. He telephoned his lawyer for advice.  Commander Correll believed that Jesse came to a disturbing realization—if Nick was released and told authorities about the spontaneous kidnapping, Jesse could spend the rest of his life behind bars:

“We believe that as a result of that conversation, Jesse came to the conclusion that he would be in a better situation to kill Nick, as opposed to trying to return him.”

Hollywood awaits trial for murder

Authorities theorize that Jesse then contacted 21-year-old Ryan Hoyt, an acquaintance who also owed him money for drugs. Jesse allegedly offered Ryan a way to pay off his debt.  On August 8th, police believe that Ryan Hoyt and two friends led Nick Markowitz to Lizard’s Mouth, a remote area in the Los Padres National Forest, and killed him.  Four days later, the body of Nick Markowtiz was discovered.

Within days, police arrested Ryan Hoyt and three accomplices for the crime.  Police had been tipped off by a teenager who had seen Nick and his captors at the home in Santa Barbara. However, Jesse James Hollywood was nowhere to be found. Police believe publicity about the murder caused Hollywood to flee.  At their trial, each of the four suspects claimed they acted out of fear of Jesse James Hollywood. However, that did not stop the jury from convicting each of them with crimes ranging from aggravated kidnapping to murder.

Update:

Jesse James Hollywood has been captured.  Five years after he fled the area, FBI agents tracked him down to a small coastal village near Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  He and his pregnant girlfriend were sitting at an outdoor café when Brazilian police swooped in and grabbed him.  Hollywood was turned over to U.S. authorities and flown back to California. He went on trial for murder and was found guilty. Jesse James Hollywood was sentenced to life in prison without parole.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eleven with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

18 Comments

  1. allison mills

    My heart weighs heavy over this after soooooomany years he was just a baby and drug debt is not worth an innocent life it would have been easier to pimp one of their hoes out or themselves instead of taking an innocent kids life were they too pussy to confront the real issue so not worth it it makes me sad

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    Damn you guys are harsh, although it was bad what he did and he should be punished I believe a death sentence as well as life in prison with no parole is to harsh, Just for ordering a kidnap and telling someone to murder the kid. The individual who did the killing could have said no, he wasn’t being forced. I think Jesse James Hollywood should have only received 40 years in prison and have been given a chance of rehabilitation in order to live in society again.

    Reply

    • Huh-Smh

      He got less than what he deserved!! He committed a crime, tore a mother’s heart into micropieces, and he ran like a coward. His sentence is very light in comparison to what he got. He should suffer just like Nicks parents have a life sentence as well. They lost their son and that’s definately forever. Jesse family still gets to see him and talk to him, the Markowitz family can’t do that!!! They will forever mourn the loss of their son, Jessie!!!? He even gets to get married, really? You call that harsh?

      Reply

  3. Anonymous

    It wasn’t my fault,honestly.I had nothing to do with it.

    Reply

  4. Patrick

    Just playing devil’s advocate for a moment, does anyone think there’s any possibility that Hollywood didn’t order Ryan Hoyt to kill Nick Markowitz, and that maybe Hoyt wanted to take the initiative in trying to “resolve” the problem? We do know that up until this incident Hoyt was basically Hollywood’s personal slave and would do various chores to pay off his drug debt, but he desperately wanted to be more accepted in the group and be taken more seriously. And it’s been said that he admired and maybe even idolized Hollywood in a weird way. So I think the possibility does exist that Hoyt may have done this in a twisted/warped way of being accepted by Hollywood and their friends, and also as a way to show everyone that he’s brutal and ruthless.

    Of course that certainly doesn’t mean that Hollywood is innocent and wasn’t liable for both the kidnapping and murder, but one of the issues I have with this is the only evidence that exists regarding the actual planning of the murder is primarily coming from the killer! Of course Hoyt would say that Hollywood gave him a bag with a gun and instructed him to kill Markowitz (and in return he would wipe clean the rest of his drug debt), because that takes some of the responsibility for the murder off of Hoyt’s shoulders. This is the same guy that testified during the trial that he had NO recollection of confessing to the murder to police detectives, so clearly he’s not a credible person with some major character flaws (that’s safe to say just from how he brutally killed an innocent 15 year old boy).

    And of course Hollywood says that he never told Hoyt to kill Markowitz, nor did he ever give him a bag with his TEC-9 pistol. Problem is there’s no other independent third-party that can confirm or deny any of what Hoyt and Hollywood have said regarding the planning of the murder itself.

    Reply

  5. Jarrod Leitch

    I thought this took place in Palm Springs? Wonder why they kept Santa Barbara name out of the movie. However, “Fiesta” is a week long party in S.BARBARA. once a year. Strange???

    Reply

  6. Diidee

    I’ve just read the book My Stolen Son by Susan Markowitz (Nick’s mum) & Ben’s step mum. I cried nearly all the way throughout. Being from Australia I’m often impressed with the Justice system in the States compared to ours here in Australia. Particularly, where in the most heinous, gruesome crimes you have the Death penalty in certain Counties. That’s why I was extremely shocked when this poor excuse for a human being was allowed to keep on breathing (albeit in prison for the rest of his miserable life), how his crime doesn’t warrant the death penalty mystify me!!

    Reply

  7. Tiko

    Where can I find a pic of Michelle Lasher?…you know, JJH’s girl at the time?

    Reply

  8. Jon segotti

    I don’t agree with what this psycho did nor do I condone any of the actions taken but what a great brother Ben was for not just easily paying the man what he owed him. Especially since its for your own brother!

    Reply

  9. Natalie

    Who ever dose bad things on Earth Jeuse & His Father will clean.

    Reply

  10. Natalie

    I’m happy that all these Not so nice People are behind Bars!!! Becouse when Jesus & his Father comes thrue here they will take care of these People who ruins the Earth

    Reply

  11. Frankie boy

    He should’ve fried for what he did. He’s a coward

    Reply

  12. Cain

    Should’ve been on death role with his homeboy whom did the killing!

    Reply

  13. Angelica

    Is this what inspired the movie alpha dog?

    Reply

  14. Sky

    I really hate this guy

    Reply

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ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at: unsolved@unsolved.com.

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.