It was the Roaring 20s, Prohibition was still in effect and Hollywoodland flourished when architect Gordon Kaufman designed a lavish home for the Doheny family which was perched above Beverly Hills. They moved into Greystone Mansion in 1928, when it was reported as the most expensive home ever built in California.
Ned Doheny Jr. moved into the spectacular Tudor style mansion with his wife and two children in late 1928. The home was a gift from his father, notorious oil tycoon Edward Doheny, who made a fortune and narrowly escaped incarceration for his role in the Teapot Dome scandal. Doheny Jr., however, was not to enjoy the spoils for long.
Just four months later, on a fateful night in early February, Doheny’s boyhood friend and secretary, Hugh Plunkett, arrived at the manse and let himself in. Ned’s wife, Lucy, saw no reason to find such a visit curious. As the visitor made his way to Doheny in a spare bedroom, her suspicions were only aroused after a single gunshot echoed from the home’s east wing.
What transpired before and after that shot remains a mystery to this day, as stories from the surviving parties become nonsensical and timelines fail to coalesce.
Forgoing police involvement, Mrs. Doheny summoned the family doctor from a nearby movie theater. Upon his arrival, the two made their way to the room containing the late Doheny and Plunkett. The latter is said to have answered the door, gun in hand and highly agitated, only to close and bar the door once more. The wife and doctor then heard another shot ring out, and both men were found dead, lying in pools of blood, once access was gained.
Lucy claimed that she and the doctor had found the bodies around midnight. But for some reason, the police weren't called until 2:00 in the morning. What's more, when the police arrived, they found that both bodies had been moved and that the statements of the witnesses seemed rehearsed.
Lucy claimed that the bodies were moved because the doctor had tried to revive the men. Though the police had their suspicions, after two days, the coroner ruled the case a murder-suicide and blamed Hugh Plunkett for going temporarily insane.
Newspapers leapt on the sensational events at Greystone Mansion, claiming it was the act of an unstable madman fraught with jealousy, but the exact events of the night (or a clear motive) were never determined. Forensic evidence painted an even more complicated picture of the evening, including Plunkett having been shot from behind at a short distance while smoking a cigarette.
Regardless of these factual complications, the case was ruled a murder-suicide, closed, and the families continued with their lives.
Almost from the beginning scandal ensued, was this some lingering repercussion to the Teapot Dome scandal which seemed to implicate the senior Doheny? Had Plunkett succumbed to madness? Or was the relationship between the two more than platonic? a jealous rage? implicating perhaps even Ned’s wife Lucy?
Several alternate theories have popped up over the years. One theory claims that Ned was the one who called the doctor (not Lucy) to come calm Hugh down. Another theory is that Ned and Hugh were romantically involved and that perhaps either Ned killed himself, or that Lucy killed both of the men.
There was both a mystery concerning the motive and who truly killed who.
While the case was closed, mystery continued to shroud the Greystone deaths and Greystone Mansion. In fact, stories of ghosts haunting the halls have been reported throughout the mansion's history.
Some report seeing a man in a black suit, while others claim to see the ghost of Lucy Doheny.
A mourning Edward Doheny Sr. donated his son’s former residence to the public and in 1976 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Ever since, Greystone Mansion has appeared in more films and television series than nearly any other home in California, including The Big Lebowski, Ghostbusters II, Gilmore Girls, MacGuyver, The Witches of Eastwick, and more. You may recognize the distinctive black and white tiled hallway from one film, its ornate wood paneled office from another, but chances are you’ve already seen the interior of this historic Beverley Hills mansion without knowing it.
While visitors aren’t permitted inside this historical Beverly Hills mansion, all are welcome to roam the palatial estate freely.
Source - AtlasObscura